Sunday, January 20, 2019

Open Letter To Covington High

Dear Mr. Rowe,

I grew up in the church. Both of my parents went to Catholic school, my dad until 9th grade and my mom all the way through grade 12. My cousin is Bishop William Winter of Pittsburgh, and my cousin married not only my parents, but all of my aunts and uncles, and at the age of 90 made a special appearance at my sister’s wedding on the alter. The priest who married my sister played high school football with my brother, and his parents, who are active in many Catholic causes, live next door to my parents in my hometown. My grandparents attended church two times a week and said the rosary daily until they passed away. Not only did I grow up respecting God and the church, but being Catholic was and still is very much a part of my fabric.
When I saw Mr. Nick Sandmann taunt Nathan Phillips I was horrified not only as a person, but as a Catholic. Nick Sandmann does not represent the Catholic Church I knew growing up. The church I grew up in prayed for the family of the fallen  Yitzhak Rabin, because despite having a different faith than us he still fought for peace in a war torn region. We prayed for the family of Matthew Shepherd, because the way he was murdered was ghastly, inhumane, and a hate crime. We also adopted a refugee family from Croatia, as the former Yugoslavia was at the time a battleground and many were dying. In taking in this family we did advocate "building a wall." In fact, our church was doing the opposite. 
 We were taught Catholic meant universal, and that the gift of being Catholic was you could go into a church anywhere and see Catholics of all shapes, sizes, and colors and have something in common. Ethnicity and color were no factor, and we were taught that it was acceptable for churches overseas to have Jesus's that were non-white, but also welcome. My elders in the Catholic Church emphasized treating all people with dignity regardless of whether they were like me or not. It was the Golden Rule, do onto others as they would do on to you. Both my grandfathers were not only good Catholics, but veterans who served their country in World War II in the South Pacific. I was taught to respect not only my elders, but all veterans as they sacrificed for our country. 
Sadly it appears this is not a part of the curriculum at Covington.  
Our priest did teach us about evil though. He sad it was afraid, egotistical, stupid and ultimately pathetic. The young man who got into the face of Nathan Phillips was all these things and so much more. I will not say his name as he does not deserve to be acknowledged let alone remembered, as his actions were the low road and Mr. Phillips took the high road in the face of true evil and hate. Actually, this tale reads like a Jesus parable. Ironically these kids were part of The March For Life effort, but these kids don't respect life at all, period. 
I am the oldest female cousin of 26 cousins and have worked as a teaching artist. When I see terrible behavior from young people, it doesn't speak so much about them but the adults that act as both parents and teachers. I shudder to think what the parents of these young men are like, and I think it's disgusting their chaperones did nothing to stop their vile behavior but instead stood back and did nothing. What turns my stomach most is these young men chanted "Build a wall" and blamed the start of the conflict on a group of black kids. Not only are these kids being taught intolerance, but part of being an adult is taking responsibility for ones own actions. They aren't being taught that either. Apparently the only value they are being taught at Covington is hate. 
While I could call your less than stellar scholar any set of names, it would do us no good. This young man is on a path that leads to no where positive. As Ghandi once said, "An eye for an eye leaves the world blind," and this kid is currently walking in a darkness that is only going to ultimately drag him down. My prayer is he will see the light and learn the error of his ways, as Saul did when he became Paul when God blinded him. They talk about these conversions and miracles in The Bible. You should read it. It's actually a good book when you don't pervert it to your own agenda that includes being a racist hate monger. 
Then again, you don’t seem to be big on reading at Covington. Because if you were, you would know that the white man was the invader and technically, if anyone should have a grievance about building a wall it should have been the indigenous peoples to keep our rape, slavery, and smallpox out. And you would also know the Catholic Church was the biggest presence in colonization, erasure of Native peoples, and the slave trade. But hey, why tell the truth? And why change? 
Just some food for thought.
April Brucker