I have been committed to inclusivity even before I could articulate its meaning and importance. As a pastor, I helped a rural church in East Tennessee open its doors to migrant workers and led the resettlement of Bosnian refugees in the community. As a filmmaker, I found myself at the heart of the national discussion about the inclusion of Muslims in an increasingly diverse America after 9/11. As an activist, I have led national campaigns standing against hate and bigotry and stood before neo-Nazis and Klansmen in Charlottesville. As a communicator, I have helped tell stories that change hearts and minds. As a fundraiser, I have worked to ensure fiscal health in the organizations I have been part of.
I am convinced that the best way to build a more peaceful world is for neighbors to eat with one another. The world’s sacred traditions all share the importance of the holy meal around which stories are told and our lives are shared. There are other ways, too, in which we bridge our differences: through stories, visual arts, and music. Through these we open ourselves to each other and experience beauty, share in pain, and seek justice for the other.
If I were to describe my working style, I would go back to what inspired my earliest ambition: to become a professional bass player. If you think about it, a good bass player is the leader of the rhythm section in any band: he or she is in the background, is driving the energy for the rest of the band, and yet is rarely out front to take the spotlight.
While I have often been the one out front, I am best when I am the driving force that helps everyone look, and do, their best.