A tribute to Hal Sieber
Hal Sieber’s gift to Guilford County is he modeled how to be a true friend across cultures.
Hal became my friend about 25 years ago when the Carolina Peacemaker published my articles on Palestine. This of course sounds fair, reasonable and unremarkable — until one remembers that many other papers and media did not support minority writers. Hal is Catholic and has distant Jewish roots through his mother, and the Kilmanjaros, owners of the Peacemak- er, are Jewish. Our friendships and conversations grew over the years from writing and discussing articles, faith and politics.
Hal would challenge his writers: Don’t just say prejudice is wrong; races should not hate one another.
Provide the readers with information that will lead them to think about prejudice with raised consciousness and accurate facts.
Hal lived and worked in the South but did not want racial tensions and segregation to be his normal so he bravely and quietly forged a new path. His values, unlike prejudices and fanaticism, were not formed by groupthink but rather from trusting empathy and compassion. He believes God is present; and he values all his creation. He seeks to learn through the diverse perspectives shared with him.
Hal’s support of the Muslim community was unwavering. He recognized achievements and wrote articles himself. He asked questions about Islam and wanted to learn how the Muslim community views life. After 9-11, Hal was still there offering sup- port as the community faced the same sadness as all
Americans, but experienced increased prejudice. Hal understands it is wrong to blame Muslims for the Twin Towers incident as it is wrong to blame Christians for the actions of Timothy McVeigh.
To Hal Sieber, my sincere and gentle friend, this just seemed like a logical and decent position to take. This is the beauty of Hal Sieber.
He was present; he stayed true to the mission; and he researched, documented and acknowledged com- munity efforts and cooperation. He shared with us the poignant image of being able to dip the drinking gourd through the heavens to bring twinkling stars of hope to light our way. These tiny stars remind us that when the night is dark, friendships and intercultural collabora- tions can create healing powers strong enough to overcome slavery and segregation.
In honor of Hal’s legacy, let us all recommit to hon- oring the normal, healthy practice of intercultural and interfaith dialogue present here in Guilford County.
Hal Sieber has shown us how to live our values and make the world we live in a better place.
Our love is with you Hal.