Responses come in and questions are raised around the S. Belle conversation that started with a FB post on MLK Day. A book list of "must reads" is in the making and will be shared in a later blog.
Tonight, however, my mind fills with a comment made sometime back by another high school classmate as we lamented the tragedy of that September 12, 1966 day: "No matter what, I still think of Grenada , Mississippi as my home" .... Mike, I too, treasure my roots. As I devote more time to writing, I realize that my muse talks with a southern drawl and filters my thoughts through the pent up memories of growing up rural near to a small, southern town.
Mississippi fascinates me ... it continues to send forth from its loins incredible numbers of talented, creative geniuses ... writers, musicians, actors ... and yet hard-to-shake mindsets and constraints from dark and tragic pages of history continue to chip away at potential and possibility for many of its citizens.
Dr. King, I, too, have a dream. I long to come to a table without agendas . I have grown ever so weary of the human tendency to create piles of humanity ... those who do or those who don't agree about something; people who look like my folks, those who don't; those who have chosen a different lifestyle; those who hold to only one way forward; Democrats vs. Republicans , youth alongside elderly, male or female .... the list of "dueling banjos" could go on and on.
Instead, imagine a table filled with the sounds of genuine conversations, with an openness to stories that are different than our own; with a growing awareness of our similarities as humans who also celebrate differences unique to our diverse cultures and backgrounds. To borrow a brave suggestion from Marie Shriver's , January 28, 2023 , The Sunday Paper, "We need pattern disrupters." Agenda-filled tables are not changing the harsh facts of the daily news.
For those who can't let go of an agenda, at least give this sort of table a try before and after tackling the weightier issues that threaten to drown us. It sounds so simple, almost too good to be true, but what if this way forward really is the way forward: Progressive and positive answers to the weightier issues must spring from the willingness to commit to building ongoing , open, and accepting relationships with people.
These tables do exist. Find them. If you can't find them; create them. Toss all labels to the wind. Keep an open invitation going. Get to know the people that make up your community.