Naperville rally promotes taking action for peace
Sunday's gathering of the United for Peace forum was intended to focus on resolving the long-standing tensions between nuclear India and Pakistan.
But Friday's massacre of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand was on all the speakers' minds at the rally at the Grand Pavilion on Naperville's Riverwalk.
More than 100 people attended the early-afternoon event sponsored by the grass-roots organization.
"Friends, we stand here with deep anguish in our hearts because of the event, the heinous attacks on two mosques in New Zealand," said Shalini Gupta, one of the organizers.
While the killer must be brought to justice, she said, "The United for Peace forum firmly believes hate begets hate, violence begets violence. The antidote to violence is compassion."
Speakers included Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico and council members Benjamin White and Paul Hinterlong; two state legislators; representatives from the DuPage and Will county boards; an aide from U.S. Rep. Bill Foster's office; and the president of Naperville's Congregation Beth Shalom.
"I feel like every week I hear the story that just happened in New Zealand," Chirico said. "It's made me numb. Sometimes just in disbelief. Sometimes in anger."
White will lead a discussion Wednesday for the new Naperville Neighbors United committee, which is going to address issues of diversity and inclusion in Naperville.
Attendees were encouraged to post sticky notes on a poster board, answering the question "What action are you personally going to take to promote unity and peace?"
Answers included "Speak up against hate in social media" and "instead of hating someone I can try to understand them. I will put myself in other's shoes."
Porus Dadabhoy, an Indian immigrant, and Farhan Ahmed spoke about their subcommittee's work in the last three weeks to advocate for diplomacy and peace between Pakistan and India. Dadabhoy said both countries would benefit from cooperating together to address poverty, education and economic development, instead of potential nuclear war.
If Pakistani and Indian people can become peaceful neighbors when they come to the United States, they should be able to do the same as countries, Ahmed said.
"I will pledge, that I will always speak out when I see hate against any person," Ahmed said.
"We truly believe we can make hate, bigotry and violence a thing of the past," Gupta said. "I have no doubt that in the time to come, our collective voice will be heard in every corner of the world."