It is a very difficult time in Milwaukee. Yet with this difficulty, comes great opportunity.

We have the opportunity to see our challenges more clearly and to speak with honesty about the issues we face. We also have an opportunity to work with each other to solve problems and to find our way toward peace together.

The past few months have brought struggle, fear and sadness, and the frustration in our city continues to be intense. While the conditions that have led to this violence are not new, finding solutions that will bring lasting peace demands that we look for new ways of solving some of the difficult problems that confront us. Among these problems are generational and extreme poverty, isolation, lack of opportunity, high levels of unemployment and escalating violence in our homes, on our streets and in our city.

We cannot solve these problems without a willingness to understand the intersection of race and class and the history that we are living with daily in Milwaukee. To solve the problems, we must understand how these issues intersect, the harmful impact they have and the legacy that we have inherited. While we seek to understand how racism, classism and sexism come together to create devastating trauma in the lives of people in our community, it is equally important for us to continue to look for ways to create hope for people who feel hopeless.

At Sojourner, we see the impact that violence has on people and how this behavior is passed down from generation to generation. We understand that children are born free of the desire to hurt others. We know that children learn violence from those who surround them… in their homes, on our streets and in our city. People who are hurt, if left unhealed, will hurt others, which is why healing is so very core to our ability to move forward in Milwaukee.

At Sojourner, we create hope and hold the light in dark times for families who are hurting. We will continue this vital work in partnership with community leaders, public and private agencies, and the community at large.

In August 2015, we launched the Sojourner Peace Campaign because of our fundamental belief that all individuals have the power to make lasting changes and to create peace in their own lives. The campaign has three components: Choose Peace. Pledge Peace. Promote Peace.

Choose Peace.

When we choose peace, we adopt behaviors that help ourselves and our neighbors feel cared for and respected. In times like this, we must find that place inside ourselves and remember how important we are to each other, to our families, to our friends and to this community.

Pledge Peace.

By making a commitment to living peacefully, we remind ourselves to take small steps every day that will improve our lives and heal our community. With each new day, peace will begin to fill our lives.

Promote Peace.

We can spread peace by setting an example and inviting others to choose and pledge peace. We welcome you to download our Peace Brochure, and if you would like, you are welcome to stop into the Family Peace Center and pick up a “Peace is Possible” t-shirt. Please contact 414-276-1911 with questions or for more information on the Sojourner Peace Campaign.

You can be a peacemaker. You can take a stand in your own life and you can help to move us all forward. When anyone of us heals, we all heal.

Sojourner remains committed to transforming Milwaukee. One word, one smile, one day at a time. We look forward to making peace with each of you.

About Carmen Pitre

Carmen Pitre, president and CEO of Sojourner Family Peace Center, writes that all individuals have the power to make lasting changes and to create peace in their own lives. Sojourner is Wisconsin’s largest service provider for families dealing with domestic violence.

Carmen Pitre

Originally published on the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service as Peace is possible