A Special Message from Don Slocum, Executive Director

Hello NLI Grads,
Many of us are experiencing feelings of great disappointment following the outcome of the Presidential election, but, we must not lose hope. History has shown us that the struggle for human rights at home and abroad has always been a marathon not a sprint. We can’t expect to have a just society by turning out to vote once every four years or even worse, choosing not vote. We must constantly stay involved in community discussions and policy development if we are to see the lasting change that so many of us yearn for. We must continually educate ourselves and our community on the important issues that we face, this means listening to more than the 30 second sound bites on radio and TV, but truly understanding those things that will impact us and our children for generations. Someone once said “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.” We have to dig deeper into the issues and we must be willing to talk to those who may hold a different view, we have to come out of our comfort zone and do the real work of understanding and healing. Our accountability to educate ourselves and our communities is the most effective strategy we have to enable ourselves to hold our local and national politicians accountable to our communities and country.

On Election Day, NLI’s Board President, Muqit Sabur, and I had a meeting with eight international visitors from Mozambique who are in the United States on a State Department program called “Civil Society Activism.” Each of them are leaders in small NGO’s (nonprofit organizations) who are working to develop strong community based institutions that will help citizen leaders create a civil society that supports the rights of each citizen regardless of their racial, economic, gender, sexual orientation or ethnic background. They are committed to build and sustain ethics, tolerance and citizenship in a multicultural society. They are coming from a country that has only had its independence for 41 years (since 1975) after a 10 year war for independence from the Portuguese who arrived there more than 500 years ago with the voyage of Vasco da Gama. Through much conflict over the years a current drought, armed conflict, little to no resources and a government that is not very cooperative with civil society, these eight individuals are still working hard to make their government responsible to its citizens. Their steadfast example reminds us that we must not lose our hope, that the opportunity to make a difference remains before us, and reminding us that change does not come over night.