This election year exposed deep social and ideological rifts in the nation.
For many, the controversies drudged up during the presidential race remain unresolved; bruising rhetoric has pitted community against community.
President-elect Donald Trump addressed some of those disagreements in his acceptance speech late Tuesday night, telling a cheering room:
"Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people."
Practically speaking, how does the nation do that?
That's the question Take Two put to three local faith leaders:
- J Edgar Boyd, senior minister at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles
- Mustafa Umar, an Imam based in Orange County
- Sharon Brous, senior rabbi and founder of IKAR, an emerging Jewish community dedicated to social justice
Pastor Boyd, your church has very deep roots in the black community here in Los Angeles. You preside over 19,000 members during a very turbulent time in this nation's history. How is your congregation feeling right now and what are you saying to them?
They outcome of what the election brought to us on Tuesday night is so different from what many people hoped to see on Wednesday morning. However, it is what it is, and our commitment to making the very best out of the reality that we've been given is really where we are. That's where we're going.
We're still concerned about those things that plagued the lives of the marginalized, the blacks, the communities who are marginalized by way of the economic realities.
We're looking now to make the very best out of what we can. We have to accept what it is as being what it is and move forward in that way, with a lot of the plans that we had last year still being on the forefront of this year, education being one of them — getting our young people educated. Getting them into jobs, getting them into businesses that they actually own and control, getting them to become really active members of the community, reaching out to young lives... all those things help to make a big difference in our community.
Rabbi Brous, for those who support Donald Trump and really do genuinely want to unite and unify with those who did not support their cabinet, what do you recommend?
It seems to me that part of what we all learned throughout this campaign is something that many of us weren't aware of before, which is that there's a tremendous population in this country that feels a great amount of fear that they cannot protect their families, that they cannot provide for their families, and that fear is so strong that they're willing to even forgive what seems to be blatant outright misogyny and bigotry toward other vulnerable minorities in order to get a candidate who actually seems to be listening to and responding to their fears and their needs.
I think we have to do two things: I think we have to learn each other — there's a vast disconnect in the country right now. We don't talk to each other, we don't listen to each other, we don't read the same newspapers, we don't see each other, we don't understand each other. We have to learn how to have conversations between populations that don't generally co-exist so that we can regain a kind of sensitivity and empathy for one another.
And we have to stand up for and stand with each other, because there are a number of populations right now that are absolutely terrified that they will be targeted by this new administration, so it's incumbent upon all of us to say to our Muslim neighbors and friends, to our immigrant neighbors and friends, to our LGBT neighbors and friends, we stand with you, and we will not allow your dignity, your safety, your freedom to be stripped away from you. Not on our watch.
Mustafa Umar, as you think about trying to find some way to heal some of these wounds, is there something from the Quran which informs you, that might be helpful for all listeners to hear at this point?
There's a verse in the Quran in chapter two: it says that it may be that something you dislike is actually good for you in the long run and something that you like may actually be bad for you in the long run and that God knows and you don't know.
What Muslims are being told is that sometimes we're being put in certain circumstances — a test for us. And although we never want to put ourselves in those circumstances when we're being tested, it may actually bring the best out in us. It makes us wake up. It makes us realize that we need to be part and parcel in this community.
We need to work hard, we need to educate people, we need to really understand that we cannot just go about living our daily lives and allow everyone else just to drift in a direction that is going to be harmful to that entire society. This is a lesson for us, this is a wake-up call for us, and we really need to become mobilized, we need to really get in gear; we've got a lot to do, and we rely on God for that.
Press the blue play button above to hear the conversation in its entirety.
(Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)