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Building Bridges During a Time of Tragedy

Our hearts are broken and our heads are weary not only for the families and communities of Squirrel Hill and Jeffersontown but for far too many senseless tragedies, those that find their way to the headlines and those that do not. In the mentoring movement locally and nationally, we are reminded that presence and a desire to share emotion, perspective, and understanding are the hallmarks of great mentoring relationships and are the well of strength and solace.  

Pittsburgh has and will demonstrate the values that make it a proud city full of history, vibrant communities, and hard-working neighborhoods. Alongside so many across the country, we reassert the values of common humanity, purpose, and bridge building. It is meaningful connection and positive purpose that confront destructive isolation. And to achieve it is both an individual and a communal action that requires a commitment from all.

It is demonstrated by millions every day and shattered by a handful of others. In our work, we learn from bearing witness to courageous, resilient, innovative parents, young people, educators, public servants, organizations, and communities that show the way to solutions day in and day out. Rather than leading with the easy elixirs of division and fear, they show how we thread together our common humanity, prosperity, and shared fates. And if you feel called to join them by becoming a mentor and multiplying the numbers of bridge builders, you can look for an opportunity here.

Whether we lead congregations, organizations, families; whether one is elected or entrusted simply with the privilege of influencing a child or anyone else for that matter; we must all bear responsibility to be bridge-builders, to be the “helpers” Pittsburgh’s own Mr. Rogers said we could always find and would bring us comfort when our world feels upside down. As we look forward to a path of healing, our calling to be those helpers is that much greater. It is what we expect and aim to teach our young people, and it is what we must demand of ourselves and all who have a platform to influence others. 

Today, as we seek stability on wobbly legs and solace for wounded hearts and mourn the loss of those we know and may never know, we are reminded and reassert the words of the Talmud:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.