LIVING FOR CHANGE
Change Yourself to Change the World
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, March 11-17, 2007
I had no idea what to expect when I accepted an invitation from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to give a “Civic Engagement” workshop at a February 23 conference for seniors returning to work.
To my delight, when I arrived for the opening session at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College, I discovered that the theme of the gathering was “A New Age Of Possibility and Purpose.”
Rev. Ortheia Barnes-Kennedy got things off to a rousing start by leading the
mostly African American, mostly female, participants in a group sing of "His eyes are on the sparrow."
Next there was an inspiring, philosophical/dialectical keynote by Rev. Gregory Guice, co-minister of the Detroit Unity Temple at 17505 Second. Referring often to the book “The Re-Invention of Work” by New Age theologian Matthew Fox, Pastor Guice told his born in 1946-7 “baby boomer” audience that they now have an unprecedented opportunity to change themselves to change the world.
Instead of waiting for others to save you, instead of thinking of yourselves as victims of external circumstances, instead of being immobilized by fear, he said, you can become bearers of hope by making a paradigm shift in how you view yourselves. You can re-invent yourselves and be born again by finding new meaning and purpose in your life.
Reality is always changing, he explained, and in the present period the world is undergoing a change as monumental as that from the agricultural to the industrial age. This huge historical transition presents us with the opportunity to create the future. So instead of talking about what we don't have and can't do, we need to think and talk about what we can do by engaging in the new kinds of work now required to make the profound changes needed in our schools, our communities, our infrastructures and all the institutions in our changing world.
When you discover purpose and meaning in your life, when you believe in yourself, he said, you are empowered to change the world. The more you give, the more you have to give. When you expel negative energy, God will fill the void with positive energy. Instead of thinking of yourself as "Retired," think of yourself as "Inspired."
As Guice talked, I suddenly realized that the reason why my "Time to Grow Our Souls" speech had had such a huge impact on the 200-300 artists and activists at the 2003 Americans for the Arts convention in Flint was because I had “preached” a similar message.
When someone during the discussion period asked "What can we do about
jobs leaving Detroit and outsourcing?" I reminded him of Guice's keynote and said that instead of trying to bring Ford and GM back to exploit us, we should be creating our own local businesses.
About 15-20 people attended each of the two afternoon Civic Engagement workshops. As we went around introducing ourselves, I was encouraged to discover how many participants wanted to "give back" to the community.
However, when I asked how they felt about Rev. Guice’s keynote, their responses suggested that for them it was just another uplifting Sunday sermon.
So I talked mostly about the practicality of the paradigm shift that we now need in our concept of ourselves. The time has come, I said, to stop separating our hearts from our minds, to stop dividing our weeks into Sundays when we rejoice in our Spirituality and nurture our souls, and the rest of the week when we accept the materialistic values of the system and view ourselves as determined by it.
I concluded by urging everyone to start a buzz about the practicality of spirituality and Guice’s keynote.
THINKING FOR OURSELVES
Lessons in Peace
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, March 11-17, 2007
Last week the nation marked the 42nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday. More than a thousand people gathered outside Selma, Alabama, to recreate the March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and commemorate one of the most brutal battles in the long and often painful struggle for full citizenship. Forty-two years ago state troopers attacked the marchers with clubs and rifle butts. Their viciousness shocked a nation that had grown accustomed to the brutality of state-imposed segregation.
This year the marchers were met with a brigade of media cameras, out to capture the contest between Democratic presidential hopefuls, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Former President Bill Clinton, who was later inducted into the National Voting Rights Museum Hall of Fame, brought additional energy to the event.
The reasons for the 1965 March quickly receded into little more than a colorful backdrop for an election more than a year away. Lessons of the past seem of little interest in a country anxious to bring an end to an unsettling present by focusing on a more promising future. But we have much to learn about peace by taking some time to reflect on the events of that long ago day.
One of the most important lessons, repeated over and over again by the civil rights movement, is that peace does not come from inaction. Nor does it come from quietly accepting the dictates of power. Peace is created through the pursuit of justice. It grows according to the means we collectively use to confront the abuse and misuse of power.
Many of those who marched in Selma, Birmingham, Washington D.C. and the countless small towns and little known battles of that era testify that it was during those moments of confrontation that they felt most safe, most at peace, most embraced by the love of community. These stories remind us that peace requires more than actions. Peace requires a community built on love. Today it is the loss of loving communities that so often makes acting for peace seem impossible.
The power of these lessons was muted this year but they continue to echo through us and to raise serious questions for how we act in the present to create peace.
In the distortions of our history, we often think about these past struggles as the results of individuals or groups who moved through time but had no connection to place. We focus on the march, the sit-in, the action. But we forget that all of this was made possible because people came from somewhere and had somewhere to go back to. Wounds inflicted were bound up. Broken heads and hearts were healed as communities provided safety, solace, and hope.
We cannot begin to move toward peace today unless we restore the ties and bonds that give life to our communities.
Here in Detroit many people are already engaged in the processes and actions that increase the possibilities of creating peace. Some of us are turning vacant land into gardens to feed ourselves and our neighbors. Some of us are taking the stories of young people, often filled with tragedy and terror, and turning them into theater and art to transcend pain. Some of us are working in small groups to find ways to confront problems through dialogue and discussion, and some of us are working to bring the voices of people from around the world to churches and community centers to tell their own stories in their own ways.
These actions are the essential steps in creating new communities of peace and hope.
上周日是 “血腥星期日事件” 四十二周年纪念日。1000多人聚集在阿拉巴马州的塞尔玛城外的埃得蒙·皮特斯桥上欢度三月，并纪念为争取独立而进行的长期痛苦的斗争一个最残酷的战斗。四十二年前，国家军队用大棒和枪托攻击了游行者。他们的恶行震惊了所有国民，虽然他们早已对这个国家所实施的种族隔离司空见惯了。