Combatting violence with support for the arts & humanities

This message by HN Foundation Board Member and Nebraska Cultural Endowment (NCE) Legacy donor Ellen Lierk of Alliance originally appeared on the NCE blog Sept. 17.

Lierk Color PortraitMy support for the arts and humanities has been long-standing.  Importantly, the world is a better place when cultural understanding and  celebration of the best in humans is paramount. I liken the work of humanities groups to spreading seeds of knowledge, understanding, celebration, community, and peace.

My need to personally spread those seeds by support for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment (NCE) was solidified through events that our family could never have imagined. A young man in our western Nebraska community entered our family pharmacy and demanded drugs at gunpoint. The young man chose to hold my husband hostage. Although Chas escaped, the young man sadly died.

We forgave him. We lived with renewed appreciation of the gift, but with a wound and sadness that will always be a part of our story.

After some time passed, I felt the need to act. My first inclination to solve the scourge of violence was to fight for intelligent gun control. My intention was not to ban hunting or shooting sports, but to keep high-powered, military-style guns out of the hands of those who would do harm. My opinions were not well-received and rather than help the healing I sought, it caused division.

About that same time, Chris Sommerich, executive director of Humanities Nebraska, called and asked if I would join the Foundation Board. Through this invitation, I had found a way to add to the positive, life-giving energy of our community and state. While serving, I learned about the NCE. The work of these two organizations focuses upon what is best in humanity.

The fear, sadness, and anger of that horrific day at our store coupled with my valuing of humanities education motivate my support and involvement in highlighting the best in our people. The work of these organizations effectively promotes understanding and community building. Violence and division do not get the last word.

Chas and I have included a donation to the Cultural Endowment in our will. In doing so, we hope that the tide can be turned from hurting toward caring for our fellow persons.

We hope that young people will see their inherent value and find expression that does not include drug abuse and violence. We hope that the legacy of this horrible incident in the life of our family will result in good derived from a celebration of the arts, humanities, and cultural pursuits.

To become a Legacy Donor, please contact Marian Fey at NCE  (402.595.2722, or Heather Thomas at HN



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