This past Sunday, splashed across the front page of the Sunday Bulletin, and carrying over to its inside pages, was 5 Years Later, Norwich Fails Diversity Vow. It was for me, a white man nearing sixty, disquieting and discomfiting and for others a discouraging read that prompted a large volume of on-line comments many of which did more to underscore the article's basic tenet about realities and perceptions of realities being one and the same thing than to disprove it.
We are a month and a day away from the dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D. C., and yet in many respects, we cannot (or will not) agree on how far we've already traveled or how much more we have yet to go in the four plus decades since Dr. King was murdered in Memphis.
Don't get me wrong. We have a nice remembrance on Dr. King's birthday/holiday in mid-January as well-meaning people from across the area gather at City Hall for a short celebratory march to a local church where fine words are spoken about living and working together after which, for the most part, we all return to our separate lives, already in progress.
Just how much progress we are making in being better at living and working together was the thrust of Sunday's article and, truth to tell, there are no easy answers but we can't stop having the conversation on race merely because the questions it produces upset or anger us.
Inter-personal human relations aren't like math problems or scientific equations where you plug in specific values of designated variables into a formula that produces a result which can then be applied in a particular set of circumstances. One plus one, despite our best intentions, doesn't always equal a well known outcome, but we should we all continue to strive to be One Nation.
And as much as I understand the numbers offered in the story, we are much more (and much more complicated) than sums on a sheet of newsprint. Reading it, I think we could be chastened; we should not be discouraged.
We are a nation, a state and city in transition. Racial, gender, sexual, religious, financial equality and freedom are all goals in many instances more conceptual than concrete. There will not ever come the day when all of us aren't working on any of those challenges and half of us will see the progress made and the rest of us will see all the miles to go before we sleep.
Dr. King, himself, knew the arduous path we were on, standing at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial nearly half a century ago when he spoke of the next American nation he and we would need to build for all of our children "...where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." A dream delayed can only be a dream denied for so long. Let all the dreamers wake the nation.