Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Let the (Three) Rivers Run

With the weather turning cooler and the daylight arriving later and the evening sky getting dark earlier day by day, I appreciate how, when the sky is clear I can see the moon and stars and I wonder if anyone 'out there' is looking back at me 'down here' trying to sort out who I am and what I do.

Such thinking always leads me to be impressed by pictures taken from space of the Earth--not so much for their color, composition and contrast or even for their peacefulness but because, from that distance, we all look very much the same.I tell myself that's how God in Heaven sees us though between you and me I'm quite willing to wait a while longer before putting that theory to the test. 

Tomorrow afternoon, starting at five, is an opportunity to Celebrate Diversity with an event so named and organized by the Norwich Rotary whose sponsorship and participation grows with each passing year. There will be food, dance exhibitions, presentations and demonstrations offering opportunities to meet people like us and unlike us with whom we, together, we share Norwich as our home. 

Celebrate Diversity at Howard T. Brown Park offers a perfect platform and setting for each of us to begin or to continue a dialogue on shared hopes and dreams for ourselves and our families which transcend reports of discord and disturbance we see from across our nation on the evening news almost every night.

Perhaps because we're better, certainly not perfect but progressing, at speaking with one another rather than at one another, we are a city where civility is always an integral part of our civic conversations, where, despite the three dozen or so languages spoken across our community, our hearts can still better hear and understand what our ears and minds sometimes struggle to listen to and comprehend.  
Don't get me wrong. As a white man nearing his middle sixties, I would never presume to assume we are a city which has achieved unlimited opportunities for all and no obstacles or challenges before us. My mom might have raised crazy children, but not stupid ones (at least after me). 

But just how much progress we are making in being better at living and working is something I think we can all agree has no easy answer but we can't stop talking about it just because the question upsets or anger us. Yes, we are a city, but more than that we are neighborhoods, and, before that, we are also neighbors. Sometimes we live parallel lives, making opportunities for shared experiences and conversations that much more important.

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.

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. Dreams delayed can only be denied for so long. Let all the dreamers wake the nation.
-bill kenny

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