Straight from the MIKE…”Beloved Community”
The revered celebration of MLK Day is now behind us and we are in the midst of Black History Month. I would like to suggest a pause for thought, for a desire, a wish, a fantasy, or better yet, a dream. Let’s talk about a “Beloved Community’, the community that Rev. Dr. King patiently spoke to us about.
I cannot help but wonder why the goal of a ‘Beloved Community’ has been so elusive for the community that I am part of here in South Cobb. Yes, I have heard the old sages such as ‘No pain, No gain’; ‘We are like crabs in the barrel’; and Speech is silver, but Silence is golden’. It is past time that we place these in our review mirror. We must commit to move the needle in our community and leave apathy in the wind on behalf of South Cobb.
I am making a personal commitment to you and our community at this very moment – I will examine each of the five-key principles of community over the next four editions of my column. In doing so, I will highlight each and delve into its importance to our beloved community.
I am starting today with the first one, Inclusion.
I hope this does not surprise you. It is as plain as the nose on our face. Without it as one of the core principles of community, you simply have an illusion, a mirage, a fantasy. As many famed leaders and advocates have said about communities in this nation, we have “the illusion of inclusion”. You need only look around South Cobb and see this demonstrated in one form or another.
A most recent example to highlight my point manifested itself the other evening with a community zoom meeting. During open discussions, someone opined about their involvement in a food bank that had targeted a vital segment of the community, our ‘goldenaires’, an endearing and gentle name for our seniors. She mentioned that they had far more food than they had people coming forward to receive it. My mental antennae almost crashed when I read on the chat portion of the zoom call that “many of our seniors simply do not have transportation”. I was crestfallen. How is it possible – in this pandemic time – that anyone in our community, let alone a senior citizen, does not have sufficient food to nourish their ageing temple or a means to get to the food – or get the food to them? Why did no one sound the ‘proverbial’ alarms to make all community advocates and organizations aware of this and pool resources together to get this food delivered to our needy seniors? This is unconscionable. Simply put, we need to do a better job of including all of our community stakeholders – not a chosen few, having our ear to the ground of our community, and being sensitive to the pulse and needs of our community.
If we are ever going to have a ‘beloved community’, which simply means a community where every voice matters, we must be serious about inclusion. Include everyone that is a part of the community. Our youth, our students, our adults, our businesses, our advocates, our clergy, our schools, and last, but by no means least, our goldenaires.
I will leave you with a powerful quote that comes to mind during these perilous and ominous times in our community and the political division in our county. It is from a gentleman by the name of Michael Doyle, who said, “The power of consensus comes from inclusion.”
Until next time….