An Open Letter to America: Now Is The Time For Us To Stand Up and Stand Together
-- Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.
There have been many moments lately where I have been questioning the relevance of my work on this blog. I feel passionately about the things I write about. "Perhaps", I have been thinking in my mind, "I am making too much out of what I see and perceive. Perhaps what I am writing about is not as relevant as I seem to think it is". I am assuming that part of my doubting comes from writing in a virtual vacuum. I considered not moderating the comments section, but I cannot bear the vitriolic hate that I find expressed on comment forums, and as a result of anonymous hate-racist comments I have already received, I made the decision to moderate and not post these types of comments.
It takes a lot of energy (it comes from the love in my heart) to document-photograph and write posts after putting in a full day helping in the community. This is not complaining, it is transparency. I am sharing with you the inner doubts I have about the "relevance of my work", I am not questioning the relevance of the suffering that I document.
My inspiration and validation to my "mind" where the doubts prevail, not my heart - came to me through 3 people this week. First it came through the Rev. Yearwood, Jr.'s An Open Letter to America: Now Is The Time For Us To Stand Up and Stand Together. Both the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the resulting ongoing suffering of all whom are involved and the devastation in New Orleans and the suffering here, weigh heavily in my heart. When I read Rev. Yearwood, Jr.'s open letter to stand up together and read the quote about "New Orleans being our Birmingham", my "mind" felt inspired and strengthened.
Then yesterday, I was given the serendipitous honour to meet by "chance" the last man who walked with the honourable Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Mr. Samson "Skip" Alexander, who also told me that he is a bassist. It is my hope that I may be able to sit with him and talk with him about what I am perceiving and seeing happening in New Orleans. Most of all, it is my greatest hope to be the recipient of his esteemed opinions and views.
The third event to happen (Friday July 6, 2007) was when I called for guidance, a very wise man whom I had met at Job 1 (a valuable resource center for those seeking work in New Orleans) when I had brought "A" in for help. This man was able, in a few moments, to identify what I have been unable to identify as "A's" options, what "A" really wanted - something I could not find clarification of even through various discussions - and even more important, more impressive to me, he identified how I was "helping too much" and therefore impeding "A's"self-empowerment. Wow. I thought through years of personal growth that I was beyond this behavior and in a moment found out I was wrong! More work is needed! I was so impressed with his clarity that I had asked him if I could call him occasionally and ask for his guidance. I told him in our phone conversation yesterday how impressed I was with his ability to perceive where I was hindering empowerment in the process of my helping.
He gave me wonderful insights into my behavior as well as the behavior and mental/emotional states of the people I am "helping". Such as, "the people I am helping know more about how they got into the situation that I do", "don't give them a comfort zone" and "what are the options for empowering them?". (Which for me is the most difficult part because I don't know all the options and am learning as I go with each new situation.)
He asked me about joining up with a non-profit and I shared with him that in my experience when you are aligned with a non-profit or organization, ultimately your agenda for helping becomes whatever the agenda is for the non-profit or organization - whatever their funding/mission statement is based on.
I feel that by being unencumbered by organizational agendas, I am open to meeting instead, the agendas of the people I am helping, in this way I feel my service is being best utilized. Once I identify their needs, I feel that I can then steer them to the various non-profits and organizations that can address their specific needs.
My "doubting" mind and my heavy heart of this past week are both profoundly grateful for these three events of cosmic (Divine) intervention.
Hey, thanks for listening...