ETX community sets aside differences in search of peace - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX community sets aside differences in search of peace


About 100 East Texans came together Monday evening with the goal of bringing together a diverse cross-section of the Tyler community.

The event took place at the East Texas Islamic Society Mosque where attendees represented various racial, cultural and religious identities that make up their community.

"We can't expect people to get along at the national and international level until we can get along with everyone in our world at a personal level," said Anne McCrady, one of the co-founders of the Art of Peace Festival.

Which is something McCrady and the Art of Peace Festival Committee hopes to achieve through a week long series of peace-activities and programs throughout Tyler.

"We need to stop looking at the differences, dwelling on the differences, it instills fear. We are afraid of change, we are afraid of differences, and I believe that when we look at the commonalities (that we are humans, that we care for our families and our friends and we all eat), that's a good place to start," said guest speaker Carmen Sosa, who is also founder of the the East Texas Community Food Coalition.

So on Monday evening, people of different faiths, races and backgrounds broke bread together at the East Texas Islamic Society Mosque.

"Most of these people have never been in the mosque, most of these people have never met each other. It takes a lot of courage to go to a place that you're not familiar with. That very act is the beginning of learning to listen to people and to understand them, and so we feel like when people trade personal stories, that's exactly what we want to have happen at an international level, to ask both sides and to listen and so we think this is where you learn how to do that," McCrady said.

"Diversity does not need to mean divisiveness. We really can get along. Our job, our role really, is hospitality. We basically open the door, make the coffee and invite people in to sit together. It's very simple really," said Mary Andrews, co-founder of Art of Peace Tyler.

It is that simplicity they are counting on to make big changes.

"We just hope that our ideas ripple out and we can cross religious boundaries, and neighborhood boundaries, and church boundaries and in Tyler start to model what we want for the world,"McCrady said.

If you would like to learn more about this festival and the other events taking place in Tyler, just click here.

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