So, Charles and I have been in 7 states in the last 3 months, working with various groups on trust-building in order to support relationships that can weather conflict and find more inclusive and just solutions for the challenges that face us all.
Along the way, we have been deeply moved by the basic decency of folks we’ve met in every place. In Iowa, the hotel restaurant hostess brought us in homemade pumpkin donuts because we were away from home for a week. In SC, good friends taught us to make “Moscow mules” and made sure we had a nice dinner out. In Virginia, we met an amazing team of people who look out for each other, on and off the job and who work with local school kids to encourage them to love science and technology. In Oregon, Todd Flack took us to the most amazing restaurant just so we could see the sunset from the prime spot in his valley. His entire crew made us feel welcome. In CA, the hotel staff let us use their printers when the lobby ones broke down and if you are ever in Birmingham, please go by the Hilton Perimeter Park South and have whatever Miss Angela’s soup of the day is. It’s worth braving the traffic on Hwy 280. And say hi to L’Tonya M. Lominy and Miss Laurie Beth and all of the staff there who have treated us like family for the last 3 weeks. And OMG, Capt. Wiley’s steak beat the ones at Peter Lugers in NYC and his wife Mary’s mac and cheese and red velvet cake were as good as my Aunt Virginia’s and Aunt Joann Thomason. Be on the lookout for Birmingham Equally United #BE_U which will be a beacon of light and healing there. And these are just a few of the stories of goodwill and hope and light. Just yesterday, some of my favorite people on the planet who happen to live in New Orleans sent me word of on-going intergenerational community building there. Every. Single. Place. Has had lovely people making strangers feel like family and working to build better communities.
There is plenty to be sad about right now and the media makes sure to catastrophize every insult. We do not hear enough of the other stories. Social media is filled with folks on the left and right in their own echo chambers, blasting away at each other in dehumanizing and polarizing language and we’re told visits are up to counselors’ offices. The seeds of our own humanity are just inside, ready to be watered and given light. Empathy, compassion, understanding, respect–these are values that must be practiced and cultivated. But they feel so much more joyful and pleasurable than fear and anger and suspicion. We have the ability to take another path, of light and love and equity and freedom.
It starts with you and me. Right here. Right now. Love heals.