President’s Message – Leah Jaramillo
A few weeks ago, I spent a truly enjoyable evening with friends honoring the great work of the Human Rights Campaign in Utah. Just hours later, I woke to find that the worst mass shooting in US history had occurred in a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando. As more information became available, I began to wonder how the specifics of this event could change the kind of conversations we’ve been having about terrorism, gun-control, religion and human rights in this country. So far, I’ve experienced a range of emotion – sadness, surprise, anger, outrage, confusion, a sense of loss for the victims and their families, hope for the future, and finally determination to make things better.
A hopeful moment in the dialogue surrounding this tragedy surprisingly came from Utah Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox who apologized to the gay community for “not treating them with the kindness, dignity, and respect – the love – that they deserved.” Statements like this give me hope that change is beginning. But, as a P2 practitioner, I believe that all people should be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect – period. Statements like the Lt. Governor’s are appreciated, but I believe what is really needed is a call to action; a call to conversation; a call for the public to participate in decisions affecting Americans.
The issues raised by this tragedy are many, complicated, and intertwined. It is clear to me that some things have to change. Mister (Fred) Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Let us, as P2 practitioners, begin to help by getting involved in these difficult conversations, planning inclusive processes, and engaging Americans in difficult topics to open the way prevent future tragedies.
I’m asking each of you to find out what your communities are talking about related to this event and these issues, engage where you can, and share with the IAP2 USA community via our social media feeds, blog, and newsletter. If nothing is happening in your community, let’s help start the conversation. Let’s support our vision to make the U.S. a country where public participation is deeply embedded and widely applied …to improve the quality of our democracy.