In January, another woman and I started a community meal in the basement of our church in our local downtown. Our town has a very high percentage of homeless people and is probably more diverse than other places in the state. We call it a community meal because all are welcome: rich, poor, all religions, ethnicities and beliefs. A meal in which we sit down together and eat. It has grown from five to about 120 every Wednesday. We make food from scratch, serve it on nice plates. It has become a family. All together. The sign when entering says: “All are welcome here. Only kind works and actions beyond this point.”
One day, a man who was strung out on drugs was sitting at the same table with three business men, two gang member and a family. All of them were laughing and talking. So many boundaries were broken that day. The homeless man came up to me when he was done and told me that he loved my motto: all are welcome. He said it makes him feel normal to come to this place and eat with a variety of people. You see, no politics are spoken here. No gun control rights, no talks about who is running for office. This is real every day life being lived. People who are just trying to survive every day, and want to be remembered as normal too.
We can blame guns, we can blame politicians, we can blame each other. What it boils down to is ourselves. Have we blamed ourselves? Have we gone beyond Facebook, Twitter or Blogs to reach out? We are living in a world that is full of hurt. All of us have been hurt at some point in our lives on a deep tragic level. How can we begin to understand what the other is going through if we do not reach out to one another? Share a meal? Stop treating others as if they are different than you. Instead treat others with dignity, and they will respond in dignity.
I am a white woman living in America. I have never experienced a bit of racism in my entire life. I do not know what my black brothers and sisters are going through. I will never know, but does this mean I never try to understand?
I am not in law enforcement. I do not know what they see on a day to day basis, or what they go through. But I can try to understand.
America, it is time to go beyond words. It is time to reach out to one another. It is time to remember that every day people live their lives, some more in fear than others. It is time to start reaching out and trying to understand one another. It is more than words, it is action.
I love this country, and all the people who live in it. We are a family, who have our disagreements, but when push comes to shove, we come together.