IMAGINE Magazine-Spring2016 - Page 19

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. - mother theresa inclusion has created a Unity Pledge and has gotten 1,100 businesses across Arizona, including many in Sedona, to sign on. The pledge simply states: “As business and community leaders, we understand that if our travel and tourism industry wants to be successful—and if Arizona wants to be competitive on a national and international level—we must support all of our diverse communities.” And that’s precisely what the ordinance does. But this is not just an LGBT ordinance—it is a human rights ordinance for us all. And while it does provide new protections for LGBT people, it also provides a vital user-friendly mediation remedy for those who experience discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability, and family or veteran status, who may currently have recourse under federal or state law that is far less accessible to most who may need it. That’s why coalitions like the Mental Health Coalition of the Verde Valley, the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council and Northern Arizona Restorative Justice were in such strong support of the ordinance. As Unity of Sedona said in their letter of support: “We embrace the values of interconnectedness and inclusion and the right of all people to be treated fairly and equitably.” This view was echoed by many other supportive faith leaders including those from the Jewish Community of Sedona, St. Andrews Episcopal Church of Sedona, and the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council. As our Rabbi Magal said in speech to the City Council, “Let’s not lag, let’s lead.” The Sedona International City of Peace group was grateful that after much debate—with extensive arguments made both for and against the ordinance—the Sedona City Council voted unanimously to approve the new comprehensive human rights law. And almost equally as gratifying for all present it was that everyone spoke from the heart, regardless of their perspective, and no one was vilified for their views. If only that could occur in Washington and in governing bodies everywhere it would be easier to remember that what unites us is far more than what divides us. We can respect and accept each other for who we are. We can disagree on policy or approach without being disagreeable or making it personal. Whether the issue is human rights, religious freedom or how best to protect the beauty of our environment, dialoguing rather than diatribing is an integral part of what being an International City of Peace is all about. There will always be differences of opinion, and how we deal with those differences will continue to be a measure of our tolerance and humanity, and our ability to learn and grow together. For other International Cities of Peace, and for communities everywhere seeking to promote diversity and inclusion, fairness and equality, we urge you to explore your locality’s human rights framework. If our journey sounds appealing to you, here are a few questions you may want to consider. 1) Does your community have a human rights ordinance that deals with issues of race or age or gender? If it does, does it cover everyone you think might be discriminated against because of who they are—LGBT people, people with disabilities, veterans, immigrants, etc? If it doesn’t, perhaps you need to start from scratch as we did. It takes time but is an incredible bridge-building opportunity. 2) What do you feel ought to be the remedy for discriminating against another? Many existing laws impose penalties such as monetary fines for those who violate the law. We chose mediation and reconciliation because we believe that through dialogue we can learn from each other, walk a bit in each other’s shoes, and find the best way forward together. It is not always an easy process, but the long term good that can come from restorative justice and releasing our own fear of those who believe or live differently by getting to know them as human beings is a gift that keep on giving. As we do, we are regularly reminded that we are far better together. IMAGINE l SPRING 2016 19