My Signature on the Legislative Letter Calling for a Ceasefire

Friends and Neighbors,

By now many of you have likely already learned of a pending letter from elected state officials that will ask the Biden administration to advocate for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas while ending our continued arms sales or military aid to the nation of Israel. I’ve already written this response to a few of our neighbors who reached out directly and want to share my reasons for signing the letter. My apologies for including statements I’ve already made within those responses.

I know that my response is going to disappoint some of you and I certainly know the feeling of realizing that those I’ve helped to elect are in such distinct disagreement with my own values. For those of you for whom that becomes true, I’m truly sorry to be that disappointment for you now. Please know that I hope to preserve our relationship as neighbors even within what is likely to be a profound divergence of values.

One form letter is circulating demanding that we, as legislators, educate ourselves on the matter before taking the step of signing any such letter. While I define my educational journey as a constant and emerging commitment, I’ll ask that you trust that I make any decisions such as this from a place centered in that commitment. My decision is not arbitrary or uninformed even though I may have reached a conclusion that differs from yours.

I am a pacifist. I can recall my earliest moment of realizing that understanding. It happened while I was in the fourth grade and I’m happy to share the more detailed story with anyone who would like to hear it. I’m old enough to have lived through a few periods of time where a reinstatement of the draft was a very real possibility and I’m also a would-be conscientious objector to any war. I will always support movement toward a ceasefire and a commitment to reconciliation and reparative justice.

The unfortunate reality is that we live in a world trapped in a perpetual cycle of war. On any given day, there will always be various nations who find themselves residing on any point of that cycle. This is especially true within the region surrounding Israel and Palestine. On October 7th, I braced myself against the news of yet another brutal assault from Hamas that resulted in the deaths and kidnapping of innocent Israelis. I prepared myself for what I would certainly define as a warranted response from Israel despite my own continued hopes that we might not carry through the cycle as we always have. I’m saddened by how that response has now crossed any threshold of what would be considered warranted, proportionate, or reasonable.

The military industrial complex is also incredibly profitable. I disagree with the notion that we as a local or state community have no standing within a deliberate response or call to action when our own government continues to profit by engaging within this cycle. When municipalities stand in opposition to war such as many Burlington residents have recently attempted, state officials are asked to listen and consider that stand. When states stand in opposition, as we are attempting with this letter, our federal leaders are called upon to listen and reflect on the emerging collective voice. This is precisely how a democracy thrives. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world (Margaret Mead).

To restate it, I’m truly sorry to disappoint some of you with my actions in this instance. I hope our disagreement can exist within a mutual respect nonetheless.

With continued hopes of peace,