One afternoon last week, I took the long and winding country roads home after spending time in the Germantown Reserve. I needed to collect my thoughts, embrace a bit of solitude, and think about what my reactions should be to all the tragic circumstances in this nation. Though I was saddened and the tears flowed freely that day, I wasn't filled with rage or hate for anyone. I knew that wouldn't solve one thing. I admit to having felt helpless though. I prayed for all victims of violence. I also prayed for the families of the ones who inflicted violence on unsuspecting people. Those families were victims too. They were not responsible for what their family members did, but they will carry the scars. I pondered what one individual can do about the violence in this land. The pervasive thoughts that came during moments of solitude were these: Although we can't solve all the problems in this world, we can make sure we do not contribute to them. We can promote peace where we live and work - in our families, in our cities and towns, and in our own states. We can denounce hate, racism, and violent rhetoric, whether it comes from a family member, a neighbor, a friend, or political candidate. We not only can do that, we must do that if we ever expect these violent acts to end. I don't want to feel helpless, sad, or live without hope. I happen to believe this situation is not hopeless. I believe in the spirits of love and acceptance. I believe in the spirits of peace and understanding. I believe in the resilient spirits of the American people. We've rebounded from tragedies before and we will again, but let this be a turning point, right here, right now. Let us stand for peace. Let us stand for love of our fellow human beings. Let us stand for what America is and will always be, the land in which the bell of freedom rings for ALL people.