To the Editor:

The recent racist comments of our president and the lack of response of those around him reveal the ease with which we as a society can overlook words and actions that are hurtful.

As clergy in Ridgefield, we believe that truth needs to be spoken — even to power. Being cruel does nothing positive to further an agenda — except for the agenda of hate.

Here in Ridgefield, we have recently seen an outbreak of ugly prejudice as swastikas have been placed on the Aldrich Museum and in our parks.

In whatever circumstance, we fool ourselves if we believe that ignoring hurtful words and actions will disempower them.

For decades we have tried the strategy of “political correctness,” hoping that it would be sufficient to change people’s prejudices. We have come face-to-face with the reality that political correctness has been a Band-Aid for the gaping wounds in our society, injuries that have been caused and continue to be caused by our objectification of one another. We are continually tempted to categorize even our neighbors according to race, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, citizenship status, etc.

We encourage all people of Ridgefield, whether you may be affiliated with a religious community or not, to practice asking the hard questions when hearing friends speak in an “us and them” perspective. We are all in this together, as our forebears realized when they established the motto of our nation as “E pluribus unum” — one out of many.

Ultimately, our world at peace requires a daily commitment to kindness and peaceful co-existence.

Rev. Whitney Altopp

Ridgefield Clergy Association, Jan. 15