We have all seen this sight: a dilapidated building looking like it is going to fall in on itself … plastered with that ominous sign … Warning! Danger! This building is condemned. Unsafe! DO NOT ENTER!
And so we tread lightly around this building, making sure we are at a safe distance. Noting that at any time, we are going to come back to this space and it will no longer contain this dangerous building. At that moment, we exhale, leaving behind the ominous sense that danger eluded us yet again.
Using this metaphor, can we not say that America is in danger of being condemned? Is there anything good or safe here? Do our systems of social change truly help or hinder? What is good about America? That we accept racism, sexism, poverty, injustice, and the ever tried divide and conquer? That we allow our children to be hungry? That the wealthy are seen as gods, while the homeless are assumed to be throw-aways? That our elders are seen as people we merely pat on the head? That we live in a society fueled by fear to keep us all in check? That the weakest link is actually becoming the largest link?
Are we all wearing that fluorescent sign that says condemned?
The facts are telling. Until we, the people, take up the idea that we ARE THE people …. we are all, indeed, condemned.
In Asheville, N.C., as everywhere, we are witnessing this firsthand, more violence in our youth culture, our gorgeous land being gobbled up by greedy investors, our trees being felled for housing. Our children are developing asthma because of the loss of trees, our mountaintops cruelly removed. Jobs that maintain a family are hard to come by, racism is inherently rampant and woven into each institution, education is in total need of repair. Families are being torn apart by poverty and homelessness. Injustice is keeping the prison system as the largest employer.
Soon, when our Asheville has been totally consumed by greed and lustful want, it will be abandoned and “condemned”, left for greener places … and then … none of us are safe.
What is that line in that song … teach your children well?
Does this building truly need to be condemned?
Here in Asheville, there is still hope. Kudos to all who are working hard to make Asheville one of the country’s most green cities. Can we also go for the title of most compassionate?
The choices are complicit complacency or grassroots activism. Even one small step daily towards kindness, humanness, and peace leaves its footprint. Who isn’t touched by welcoming smiles and unexpected bits of kindness?
In the dawning moments, may we all find the strength to open our arms to enveloping peace and comfort that includes everyone. And in the words that we all know … let life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … truly take on it’s meaning, that all people get the opportunity to get beyond the struggle for life, and have the liberty to be in a state of happiness. Peace — it needs to be the air that we all breathe.