I honor a physicist, who lived beyond science, who cared beyond religion, who taught beyond the classroom. ..Dr. Burt Muller, a physics professor, worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II then spent the rest of his life “atoning” for his part in the nuclear arms race Burt worked with other Jewish survivors in order to stop the Nazis. But, when he came to teach at UW, he saw the isolating fear created by the build-up of nuclear weapons and therefore taught peace and the uniting of humankind. .Burt said to me “You must join the Union of Concerned Scientists AND the United Nations Association. If he were still alive, he would continue to work across Wyoming in order to find a way that our scattered geographies and ideologies could come together…far across the miles.
At the height of the Cold War, when Americans made much of our enemies, this is what he said: “Forty-four years ago, I and my contemporaries perpetrated one of the most barbaric acts in history, the explosion of the uranium-235 fission bomb over the city of Hiroshima…. Partly, my activities have been my atonement for my personal actions, but mostly, they have been motivated by my deep feelings of responsibility to share my knowledge of the perils of nuclear weapons and to share my hopes for humankind” Critical to his Jewish heritage is the commitment to MIZPAH—that each of us are born to be a blessing to the whole of humankind.
And so, near Valentine’s Day, I look at the persistent efforts of the Wyoming Interfaith Network and I recognize that we come together to do the hard work. It is easy to state differences. It is easy to be righteous. It is easy, in this state, to be isolating. But, much more difficult is what WIN has stood for in its heritage and in its current goals, to bring together ALL OF US, across the spectrums of Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, and Jews. Forging the bonds of our connectedness is far more difficult than exploiting our differences. So, since the 1960’s, Wyomingites have come together to work on what unites us—care for families, for health, for mercy for the least of us.
There are very realistic reasons for acting as one because we have a stronger voice together as we can speak for the voiceless. But another important reason is what we believe. Are we exaggerating our differences so we can be “special” or are we willing to work in the name of the One Who loved us beyond our deserving? From our faith comes a well-spring of hope so we keep acting for the “good” because we, like Burt, remember our inheritance:
“We are born to be a blessing to the whole of humankind.”
The Rev. Dr. Sally Palmer is the Chair of WIN's "On Sacred Ground" Team.
To join Rev. Sal and others in seeking environmental justice, email her: firstname.lastname@example.org