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Justice for All

June 1, 2020

 Below is a letter to Oregon caregivers, leaders and providers from PeaceHealth Oregon Network Chief Executive Mary Kingston. 

 What we need in the United States is not division,

What we need in the United States is not hatred,

What we need in the United States is not lawlessness or violence,

but is love and wisdom, and compassion for one another,

and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country

whether they be white or whether they be black.”

~Robert F. Kennedy

 

Dear PeaceHealth Oregon Caregiver, Providers and Leaders,

Robert F. Kennedy was preparing to speak to a crowd in inner city Indianapolis while on the campaign trail in April 4, 1968. He learned Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and later died in Memphis. RFK improvised his speech in response. Those in attendance screamed and wailed when he broke the news. RFK gave one of the most gut-wrenching and heartfelt speeches I’ve ever heard; I won’t ever forget it, even though I was only 12 years old at the time. 

Today, I write this to you – our Oregon Network – with a heavy heart. The senseless death of George Floyd is not the first grave injustice people of color and diverse backgrounds have suffered in our nation. But it’s the flint that ignites the world today to say “enough”. 

And, this weekend was an exclamation point of a long, run-on sentence – years and years of inequality. This is not the world any of us envisioned for our children and grandchildren – and it is the antithesis of the Values of our Founding Sisters. In many ways, our nation is more compassionate, but there are individuals who are part of our citizenship who do not share the values of justice and respect. Clearly, we have much more work to evolve as individuals and as a nation.

I can’t pretend to know and understand the fear and pain our black and all interracial communities face each and every day. I’ve asked myself: How can I personally change to make a difference? What does it look like to stand in solidarity with our African American colleagues, friends, family and community members in advocating for justice, fairness, equality and other inalienable human rights that many of us may take for granted?

And, with that, I’m reminded of Gandhi’s saying: We must be the change we want to see in the world.

This news cycle may end, but we must always keep our eyes open and stand up for what’s right. This needless cycle of hate has to stop, and it starts with each one of us. We must stay connected and be the change.

I’ve struggled with the words to express the extreme emotions emanating from this weekend – and, I’m sure I’m not alone. I offer you this, a moment to pause and exhale with this centering prayer:

            Dear God,

            Our weary world yearns for your help today.

Help us to stop the virus that is causing illness and death.

Help us to stop the sin of racism.

Help us to stand up to those who are using this moment to divide and cause harm.

Come, Holy Spirit!

Amen.

~The Paulist Fathers

Let us lead our lives with love and build a hopeful future together, undivided. Let us pray for our country and our people, together.

Mary Kingston, Chief Executive

PeaceHealth Oregon Network

About PeaceHealth: PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. It has approximately 16,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 900 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission. Visit us online at peacehealth.org.