Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association
A Letter from Charles Caldwell
Dear Fellow Alumni/ae,
On behalf of the Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association (PGIAA) and myself–
We are deeply saddened and troubled by the nightclub shooting in Orlando and we extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all the victims and their families, as well as the members of the LGBT community impacted by this senseless tragedy.
It is difficult at times like these to experience the sheer enormity of shock, sadness, and outrage we feel at the continuation and growth of violence and bigotry in our country. Many of you will be feeling similar feelings as violence like this is a deep wound, to not only our individual psyche, but also our collective soul. We ask that all alumni work towards creating a more compassionate, understanding society that celebrates each person’s uniqueness and special gifts. It is important at times like this that we also remember to care for ourselves and each other, as well as the larger community, as we grieve.
Together, we can strive to build a better world where such acts of tragedy are not acceptable and all people can live in peace and without fear for their lives. Let us stand united for peace.
With love, compassion and gratitude,
Charles Caldwell, President
Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association
Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer – Responding to Orlando shooting
The day after we all heard the news of the mass shooting in Orlando continues to feel like a nightmare. In light of the President’s powerful remarks, the supportive comments at the Tony Awards ceremony, and the continual commentaries all the talking heads on television, what more is to be said?
I was meeting with Pastor David Moore this afternoon to plan a picnic for our African-American/Jewish dialogue on August 7th, we discussed how to respond to the shooting. I shared how I spoke yesterday at Casa de Maria of the need to model building bridges across our fears. He shared a short email sent to his two congregations about the need to call friends who are in the LGBTQ communities just to let them know that somebody cares. I echo his call and encourage you to reach out to your friends in the LGBTQ communities to offer words of compassion and support. I would also add the need to call up friends in the Muslim community who may be once again be feeling a little less safe, a little more vulnerable. On behalf of our Shul, I called Imam Yama who was touched by my call and concern.
We have many options of how to respond to such a terrible tragedy. The best option is to show our common humanity by standing together.
– Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer
I am sending this to you from Russia where I am offering lectures and seminars in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Across the sea, here in Eastern Europe, the terrible attack on the LGBTQ community in Orlando is creating deep sympathy and sorrow. Such acts of gun violence resonate loudly here, touching into the terror and fear of a not too distant cultural past. In addition, the average Russian is also distressed by the attack on the LGBTQ community in this Country as well.
Over the past days, I have heard from a number of you directly, expressing your deeply personal feelings of anguish, anger, and grief. We find ourselves once again sickened by horrific acts of violence. Killings, fueled by social injustice, mental illness, racism, and ignorance once again become gut wrenching to witness and experience.
In light of recent events, as a community of the caring, as a community rooted in a depth psychological vision, we reflect on what is being asked of us now? Certainly comforting one another and understanding one another just a little more with compassion is foremost. And, too, I believe acting on behalf of our core values is now more important than ever.
Now is the time to recommit ourselves to the soul body of Pacifica, to those values we hold dear. I offer four steps to act upon in the next thirty days:
- Set a time to come together as a community to respectfully dialog and listen to one another in relation to how the shadow dynamics in American culture play out in our Pacifica culture.
- Have the Academic Senate appoint a group to draft a proclamation on behalf of our “mission and vision” that contributes the depth psychological perspective to the wider cultural conversation being enacted on the national stage.
- Enact, through the Staff Directors, a particularized action plan that addresses issues of safety and respect on campus for peoples from a multiplicity of diverse backgrounds.
- I, as Chancellor, address explicitly, and make public the outrage I feel about Institutions of Higher Education, here in Santa Barbara, that continue the practice of forcing students to sign a “loyalty oath” concerning gender identity as a pre-requisite for admissions. (think globally, act locally
One additional note: In my work with the United Nations, and in my direct experience in Russia, I find it frustrating and, frankly intolerable, that the U.N. has worked to improve the rights of the LGBTQ community only to have, once again, nearly two dozen civil society organizations that provide services for LGBTQ communities and others banned last week at a high-level three-day General Assembly meeting on AIDS. Time to make our position explicit on this matter.
We, as the keepers of our Pacifica community, we as citizen-advocates of a just, equitable, and sustainable global community can do better, must do better. May our grief and care “for the beauty we love be what we do.”
With deep sorrow and empathy for the families and friends of those stricken by the events in Orlando,
With gratitude for all that we do in our particular ways here at Pacifica to create a climate of inclusion and with sincere regard for the work we do in our home places,
Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D.
Chancellor & Founding President