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Meghan Lukens: Condemning hatred starts at home

October 25, 2023, 10:21 am

The following opinion column was produced by state Rep. Meghan Lukens, a Steamboat Springs Democrat who represents Eagle, Routt and other counties in the State Legislature’s House District 26:

Meghan Lukens

While at the State Legislature, I often talk to colleagues about the Western Slope Way. On the Western Slope, we are proud of our way of life. We support each other. I am continually impressed by the dedication of the people who live in Northwest Colorado, I am proud to call this region home, and I am honored to be our State Representative.

As I write this column, I know that the Jewish community in and around the state is in pain and deeply concerned by the violence in Israel and antisemitism here at home. In Israel, Hamas inflicted unspeakable acts of terror upon innocent Israelis, and antisemitism is on the rise throughout the state of Colorado, including in House District 26. We must condemn terrorism and antisemitism, and continue to stand together against hate and violence. The loss of innocent life in both Israel and Gaza breaks my heart, and I send my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of this conflict and hope for the safe return of those still being held hostage.

State representatives do not have a large role in foreign policy, but we can work to build bridges and strengthen ties in our community. In that vein, I was scheduled to be in Israel last week with a group of lawmakers from Colorado, visiting some of the same places that Hamas attacked earlier this month. While our visit is on pause, like everyone in our community, I hope that someday soon we can see lasting peace in this region and an end to the violence.

At the State Capitol, we have taken steps to ensure students understand the past and therefore can create a future that promotes justice, equality, and kindness. HB20-1336, Holocaust And Genocide Studies In Public Schools, requires the satisfactory completion of a course that includes Holocaust and genocide studies as a condition of high school graduation in public schools. This bill passed in 2020, and while this bill passed before my time in the legislature, I want to continue the work of the legislature to combat antisemitism and hate in a multi-tiered way.

Education is the most powerful tool we have to fight hate. As a history and civics teacher myself, I know it is imperative that we learn from our past in order to foster a culture of tolerance and understanding, and in turn, we can create a brighter future for our future generations, free from prejudice. I love working with students to encourage political and civic engagement – no matter what political party they align with. To move forward, we must have active engagement from our whole community.

Hate is rising, but we as a community must continue to rise above it. We must work together to ensure that all members of our community know that they are valued. We will foster positivity, kindness, awareness, and inclusion in Northwest Colorado. It’s the Western Slope Way.

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