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Monday, February 22, 2010

Overcoming the Fear of Our Own Communities

Passionately Engaged Affecting Community Everywhere

Recently, Karen and I were leaving an event and decided to walk through the community that surrounded the event and then down to the main intersecting highway, Memorial Drive. As we were preparing to leave an old familiar Trail (Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk) experience occurred.

There were those at the event who were most concerned about us walking through the neighborhood surrounding the area, as we were in a high crime area. We simply smiled and said all is well. As I began walking, I thought about all the groups that are walking now: walking for fitness; walking for causes (breast cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Epilepsy, peace, the environment, etc.). And then I thought about the routes we often take and a concern arose within me.

“Are we so afraid of our troubled communities that we often prefer to walk in safe spaces and remain “walker outsiders” for causes? We may walk for peace but we stay outside of those areas that need the peace or we walk for HIV/AIDS but then we walk through pristine parks and down “uptown” corridors.

I am not criticizing any walks, we need them all. What I am doing is pointing out that we cannot become so fearful of our communities that we create barriers of fear that keep us separate, locked in the silence of dispassionate non-engagement and “victim blaming rhetoric”. When we do this, we create invisible, voiceless communities who are as foreign to us as a small, very poor community in a country far away.  

In preparation for the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace, once a week the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers will be walking through communities and sharing our walks and our dialogues (in our video journals that will be posted here) to begin to erode the barriers that lead to separation. Our experience from the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk is that if we do, others will follow.

11:18 am est          Comments

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Compassion

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., over forty years ago declared that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere?” and that “History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.” I remember the Grandmothers saying to me once that, "The greatest challenge of this century is one of privilege. What will people be willing to give up so other may have?” 

In 2008, 13.2% of Americans were in poverty and the Brookings Institute Center on Children and Families forecasts this number to increase to 22% or over 45 million Americans in poverty, and 38% for children or 18 million by the year 2010. The implications for marginalized groups (minorities, immigrants, children, women, the elderly, those already below the poverty line, etc.) is much higher than the national average, in some cases doubling the national average. This means that the growing poor are experiencing all of the poverty related challenges: inadequate to no healthcare; joblessness or underemployment; criminalization of the poor; limited education/reduced literacy rates; limited voice in public policy...

Virtually nowhere is the relationship between the rise in extreme poverty and the extreme concentration of wealth raised. The growth of severe impoverishment is an unmistakable manifestation of inequality, itself the product of definite policies aimed at diverting social resources into the hands of a financial elite. At a time when the top 1 percent of US households received 17 percent of all national income, held more than a third of all net worth, and more than 42 percent of all net assets, nearly a fifth of households held zero or negative net worth. Another third of the population held less than $10,000. (Mishel, Lawrence, Jared Bernstein, and Sylvia Allegretto. The State of Working America 2006/2007. An Economic Policy Institute Book. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press, 2007, p. 257.)

As American citizens, haven't we been down this dead end road that leads to civil unrest before? Do we have to run head on into the wall of injustice and inequality and suffer the consequences of a nation divided? Do we have to undermine the values upon which this country was founded (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)? Isn't it each generation's responsibility to hold America accountable to an ever evolving moral commitment to liberty and justice for all?

Last week I watched commentary by various media sources on the state of our country. The commentary was specific to the sentiment of the American public on the state of economic affairs of the country and its impact on the public. As I watched, a theme emerged which caused me great concern. Americans, according to opinion polls, appear to be willing to call forward a corrupt leadership as long as we do not have to "suffer"; as long as the cost for righteousness and justice is not too much to bear; as long as we do not have to give up too much.

What now America? Do we have the courage, the moral consciousness, the faith in our humanity and the love of our people to stand up for what is right; to create the policies that will better leverage resources to end the rising numbers of those in poverty? 

 

 

10:11 am est          Comments

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Am Back

Thank you all for returning to the site to make sure it works. I have been doing some changes to the sites in preparation for our next walk the 13 Moon Walk 4 Peace which will begin in October of 2010.So www.trailofdreamsworldpeacewalk.com is no more. Our new website is www.13moonwalk4peace.org

The Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers are also in the process of preparing for our 10th anniversary of walking for peace and global transformation!! Imagine, a decade of walking for change: April 2000 to April 2010.

I have learned so much in these last ten years. On our very first walk, the Trail of Dreams Ancestral Journey, we walked from Pennsylvania to Georgia via the Appalachian Trail to affect healing of the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Trail of Tears by walking through routes of the Underground Railroad to the north and the Trail of Tears to the south. One of my many lessons on this journey is that no matter how big the challenge I can overcome it, one step at a time!

Our second walk, the Trail of Dreams Ancestral Journey, II, was across the Atlantic to Ghana, West Africa, to walk and continue our healing and reconciliation prayers in the slave dungeons of Ghana. Peering out through the Door of No Return, I felt the power of all those who have prayed for over 400 years for a reunion with their families amid joyful shouts of "Welcome home. You've been gone to long." Here I learned that we, desendants of Africans who were eslaved in the Atlantic Slave Trade have much to lend to the revitalization of Africa and how important it is for our youth to have the opportunity to have the experience of visiting the Mother land, itself an act of healing and reconciliation.

And most recently the Trail of Dreams World Peace Walk tought me the power of love and the Grace of God. If it was not for the love of those who embraced us in every community across six continents, we would not have made it home. If it were not for the Grace of God we may have been met with illness, violence, hunger, no place to stay or even worse been stranded without a way home but none of that was our experience. Another lesson learned: People, heart to heart, are changing the world everyday, one step at a time.

 

 

4:59 pm est          Comments


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