One speaker talked of his parents surviving the Holocaust during World War II as his inspiration for devoting himself to tolerance and respect for all at the “Day of Peace and Justice,” held on campus Dec. 1.
The Advocates of Peace sponsored the event, held in the College Union, to share ideas on how individuals can make the world better. Several organizations were represented at the event, including The Peace House of Oklahoma City and the Oklahoma City Center for Conscience.
The first to speak was Michael Korenblit of the Respect Diversity Foundation. Korenblit began his presentation with a chilling childhood memory.
“When I was 6 years old, I was sitting in the living room with my parents,” he said.
“I had noticed something on their wrist, right here above their watch. And on the inside of my mother’s forearm was the letter ‘a’ followed by the number 27327.
“I asked my parents what those were and they tried to explain to me in the least horrifying and simplest of tones that they were survivors of the Holocaust,” Korenblit said. His parents had lived through the attempt by Adolf Hitler to erase Jewish people from Europe.
Korenblit’s parents taught him an important message as a child that drove him to take the initiative.
“Whatever you do as you go through life, no matter who you meet, no matter what color they may be, no matter what religion they may be, no matter how different they may be from you, you are to treat them with respect and be tolerant of who they are,” he said as he narrated his parents’ message
“It was because of that, that a little over 10 years ago, my wife and I created The Respect Diversity foundation,” Korenblit said. “The mission of the foundation is pretty simple: to teach respect and tolerance for all people, no matter their differences.”
The Respect Diversity Foundation sends members to schools, churches, civic organizations and businesses to teach the importance of respect and tolerance, Korenblit said.
Nathaniel Batchelder of The Peace House of Oklahoma City stressed the importance of politics and “the political will” of people. He expressed his concern with national and state government priorities.
“We support cuts to any form of government assistance to people in need,” he said.
“Whether it’s mental health or single mothers in need, aid to families with dependent children, food stamps — cut it all, we can’t afford that. “We can afford to go to war but we can’t afford to help people.
“This is a matter of values, and it’s our values. And we have to find the ways to make our politics felt in Washington D.C,” Batchelder said. “Remember, the rubber hits the road in politics and we have to be a part in what happens at the state capitol and the national capitol.
“On what issues should you take action?” Batchelder asked the audience. “The one that touches your hearts. All together we are 330 million Americans. We can change this country and we can change the world.”
Others who spoke at the “Day of Peace and Justice” event included Imad Enchassi of The Islamic Society of Oklahoma City, Moses Mast of Oklahoma City Center for Conscience, Pam Sanford of the Norman-based Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Dianna Freeland of Soka Gakkai International, and Chris Moore of the Mayflower Congregational Church.
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