In recent days I have been overwhelmed by people’s desire to help the city of Baltimore. I have been equally overwhelmed by my inability to answer this simple question: “How can I help?”
Here is my public confession: I really don’t know.
It took me a while to understand why I couldn’t answer this question. After much thought I finally realized that I have a fear of our city receiving help without healing. Our greatest need is healing. Our systems, relationships, education, families, and communities need healing. The relational healing includes those between the cultures, races, and classes in our city. Our hurt has been evident through recent deaths, riots, and the destructive responses to these events.
So, here is my answer to the million dollar question: You can help by participating in the healing. Our healing has at least three components: time, bridges, and consistency. I will elaborate on each component in upcoming blogs.
We have an opportunity in the midst of great darkness to be a light to the nation. We have the people, the resources, and the relationships to be an example of how a city works together to correct injustice. For years I have witnessed the efforts of police officials (Lt. Col. Russell) and public officials (Nick Mosby) as they stepped beyond the call of duty to engage the people of Baltimore for the good of our city. I attended the meetings, walked in the marches for peace, and prayed on the streets with public leaders. These are just a few examples of the social wealth in our city.
Progress will be made with each step taken on the ground that has been gained. But we are sure to all lose something if we only look at what is lacking. My fear is that the leaders who have worked tirelessly to engage our community are now viewed as enemies of the community.
This makes me wonder if our tactical success is leading to strategic failure. Tactics are those actions that have a tangible (tactile) effect. So our speeches, interviews, posts, tweets, meetings, etc. are the tactics that we are employing. What are our tactics producing? Though they are reasonable, do they draw us closer to justice and righteousness in our city?
Strategy considers the big picture and takes inventory of the resources available to attain an objective. A resource of our city is that we have representatives that reflect the demographics of our city. We have relationships that have crossed the lines of faith, position, and politics for the common good of our city. And we have people who love their city. Prior to this weekend we’ve had community marches, conversations, and prayer gatherings. Are we making the most use of these resources to bring healing to our city?
Due to the national coverage of the murder of unarmed black men, the civic leaders of our city feel the burden of the nation looking to see how they will respond. This real and necessary burden compels all local officials to collaborate with the local community. So let’s seize the willingness of this moment to increase accountability and establish a peaceful future.
I know some people will disagree. I would only ask that you consider the end result of your tactics.
As a young boy growing up in Baltimore I sincerely believed that nothing good came from here. I know that is wrong now. But what hope would we give the youth of our city if we attained justice and at the same time established unity? What pride would be gained for the youth that witnessed our city become the national example of reconciliation? How much taller could we all stand if we became the city on the hill?