July was a long and difficult month. Not just because of the high temperatures. Or because of late night television viewing of political conventions. But it was troubling because of the current events and news focusing on acts of violence, reactions to violence, and violence to end violence. It has never been more true that violence begets violence. It surrounds us. I even seemed to notice more reports of local violence in Poughkeepsie and Beacon in the newspaper in the past month. Overall, the type of global and national violence was even more upsetting since it was dominated by racial, religious and ethnic tension, discrimination and bias. So many of us hoped that black and white violence had been left behind in the 60's. But I can remember vividly in 1991 when racial violence erupted in Crown Heights in NYC and how I needed to 'do something'. I was involved with a grass roots project which sought to counter that violence with education, understanding, and re-focusing on the big picture. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed with reports from Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, I found a few left-over t-shirts from the initiative, which focused on cultural awareness. I think a picture is still worth a thousand words, so I offer the images here.
"Project ME to US", Multi-Ethnic Unity and Strength ©
Food for thought: There is no need to preach to those who are trying to live into this reality as we make our individual and collective choices to switch from 'me to us'. Beaconites recognize diversity as a good thing in our community; Beaconites have consciously chosen to live in diverse neighborhoods. But the question to ask is how woven together are we in this community? Do we live in parallel neighborhoods, playing and shopping, meeting and eating, befriending and socializing, separately? Are we more segregated in the mundane activities of daily life than we would like to believe? What work still needs to be done to cross boundaries that would easily blur the dividing lines so that the fabric of our community life can be strengthened by how we weave all the strands of who we are together? How can we really get to know our neighbors? What small and personal things can be done so that larger goals can be accomplished together? I will be thinking about this a lot as I recognize the need to update the original vision that Project ME to US imagined 25 years ago. Because it is still an 'us thang'. And we have not really understood. At least, not yet.