We have gone through what seems to be an unending series of calamities and misfortunes that at times for me seems to shake the fabric of the world and I am left standing like a witness to a mugging. What was stolen was us, the collective we, and the ground we were standing on. The place where the crime happened is our forested city and perhaps like many bystanders we let this crime happen.
Our Annus horribilis began with racism on ice that fled to discrimination in a market which catapulted into park occupation in hopes of equality that was then dismantled which hurtled into the eroding of the middle class jobs, locked gates, and picket lines, that then staggered into the facts of increased poverty, lower employment, lack of opportunity for newcomers and new generations, that slid into the daily horror of bullying which finally sighed into the wavering of our belief in public office.
We also had moments and movements of hope this last year. Gatherings of the concerned and optimistic, heartfelt conversations over beer and coffee, presentations of excellence and inspiration, and revelries of who we are in dance, music, theatre, and words. These shared experience in twos and threes, hundreds and thousands, made the last year bearable when things seemed to have no chance of being better.
In the face of all this some come to the front to offer a way forward and drop out of site when they cannot find consensus, some are tenacious and keep iterating and creating, hoping that the next time the combination of idea, people, and place will coalesce into a magic moment and it will all come together. The majority will stand on the sidelines and remain mute hoping for a brighter day.
It is to all of you that I am writing this. I am writing because i believe that in order to know where you are going you have to recognize where you are and where you have been. I have been in places of bright optimism and bleak pessimism. In places where I have been comforted and have offered comfort. In places of screaming in rage and in places of counseling clam and tolerance. And it is in that we find the rub dear reader.
We are in a time and place of wild swings of intention and action, of inattention and inaction, of tolerance and rage, of expectation, hope, cynicism , decay and rebirth. We have no solid ground to stand upon and survey where we are and what we are doing, and know not where or who we want be today or tomorrow. We are ricocheted around these times like rubber balls on concrete walls and we are left unstable.
We have lost the old solid footing of community institutions like churches, clubs, political parties, and often the comforting familiarity of community, neighbor and family. If this is the case then we must build new institutions on the old or rebuild that which has crumbled. Organization that do the work now that was once the purview of government and who work for the common good should come together and buttress each other, standing forward as places for community to grow from. Our institutions of higher learning can no longer look inside their own walls or so far beyond them thy the cannot see the people living around them. We live just outside the doors. Collective recognition of old institutions like churches should begin because they are the ones feeding and caring for the most untouchable and unloved amongst us and do this despite our growing disbelief and distrust in them.
Those with voices clear and strong need to step forward now and take up the reins of leadership in our community with the pledge that they will restore our faith in the offices of political power but with the understanding in their marrow that all of that power is derived from the people who live around them. They must pledge to never shun the input for those that gave them this great gift of trust and pledge that they will work tirelessly, not for themselves, but for us and our collective hope for a better place to be and live.
If we do this then we shore up the ground we are standing on and have a stable place to build upon and to look out at the world. If we decide to do this then we must not only point out what is wrong but point out how to make it right.
This is not about policy or party but rather it is about belief. The belief that we can achieve anything if we have the collective will to do so and that if we chose to, we can stand together again on solid ground.