How do we heal?

This week was marked with historic events and quiet conversations.

Many called for unity, citing the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s calls for nonviolence and peace on Monday’s holiday, sharing calls for Washington D.C. to see rural communities like ours as more than something to make fun of or ignore on Wednesday.

Tuesday I had the privilege to talk with those who want to see a nation divided begin to heal.

One shopkeeper talked about relearning how to disagree with other humans without being labeled “racist.”

Another wanted to just stop talking about it.

A third focused on finding the love we celebrate in different fashions.

I couldn’t help but think of the 2003 song, Where is the Love?

People killin’, people dyin’

Children hurt and you hear them cryin’

Can you practice what you preach?

Or would you turn the other cheek?

That use of “or” strikes me.

Why not the word “and?”

Can we truly choose to find love for our neighbors AND our enemies?

Do we acknowledge, rather than erase, the experiences of those who don’t look like us, vote like us, worship like us, or take paths of education different from us?

I believe so.

When I was a young child, my father invented a game to help me see commonalities.

The challenge: Instead of contradicting a statement, is there a way to continue the conversation by use of the phrase “Yes, and?”

At 8 years old, we may have been discussing the teachings of John the Baptist, or the traditional dances of Greece, but that challenge has stayed with me.

What can you find to agree upon, as a common base to begin from, knowing that the path forward may find you in uncomfortable moments and spaces but also knowing that it is in those spaces where love for our neighbors can grow?

Is it the definition of a word?

Is it the love you each have for children?

Is it a moral duty you share to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and love thy neighbor as the communities of Beverly, Waterford and Lowell set an example of last year?

Like Claudette Colvin, paving the way for the right person at the right time to step a little higher on that hill, can we say “when my moment came, I was ready?”

Do we have the faith to lean not unto our own understanding?

Can we, as the apostle James wrote, confess our faults to one another?

To me, that’s how we heal.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.


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