Tuesday, April 9, 2013

See you in My Dreams

You did not get "here" by yourself.  You will not get "there" by yourself.

The very name of this blog-- 'Ubuntu' speaks to the truth of this  claim.  Ubuntu is a word that comes from the Xhosa speaking people of South Africa.  Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu says it simply means that "people are people through other people."  In other words, "no woman or man is an island unto themselves."  We need each other to survive and thrive.

Despite our best efforts to alienate ourselves from our neighbor, there is a longing within each of us that desires to reach beyond the bounds of our own bodies toward something that is greater than ourselves.  This truth has been verified for me over and over again as I engage with folks from all walks of life here in Montgomery County, Maryland.  I hear it in the voices, I see it in the eyes, I discern it in the souls of some of our most privileged and lesser privileged sisters and brothers in our midst.  Political leaders, business titans, educators and administrators, newly arrived immigrants, youth, elders, renters, homeowners all saying the same thing-- how can I be more connected to my neighbor, my neighborhood, my planet.

The kinds of connections that I'm talking about here are catalytic, they are the intersections that free us to be be vulnerable enough to express our authentic selves, and similarly to share with each other our most closely held aspirations--unbelievable ones, impossible ones that if we would just strive for them, could give our lives and life in our community more meaning and purpose.

I am raising this issue now because I am hearing a common refrain in many of the conversations and relationships that I am forming across this great county.  I am also seeing resonances of this same conversation around the world.  Present across the broad spectrum of our communities is a profound sense of alienation (despite AND  because of the proliferation of social media), along with an equally profound sense of frustration, demoralization-- and in some cases rage-- about the way things are.   I think we all know that somethin' ain't right.

Now it would be too easy to blame all of this (whatever this is!) on the economic downturn or on political or business leaders (on the right or left)-- but we've been doing that for too long haven't we?  I dare say that the future depth of our despair or the heights of what we can collectively be will be defined or determined by all of us, not just one of us or a few of us.  However, before we act we must ask ourselves this question:  Will we continue to settle and live merely for what's practical and safe?  Will we continue to hide under a bushel the dreams that we have for our own lives and our communities-- and as as a result continue to fall woefully short of our collective potential?  Or will we act courageously and lovingly, demanding more of ourselves and our neighbors, dreaming and achieving the seemingly impossible so that we become a more loving and fulfilling community?   How we answer will determine whether or not ours is an earthly heaven or hell.

IMPACT Now! 2013--the biggest free breakfast party in Montgomery County happens on April 25th at 7:30 am at the Silver Spring Civic Building.  The entire planet is invited (but space is limited so RSVP fast here impactnow.eventbrite.com).  During our time of celebration we will also make room to wrestle as a community with this essential question:

What is the dream that you have for your own life and/or for the life of your community that you have forfeited or forgotten about for the sake of what's practical and safe-- a dream that if achieved would make your own life and/or life in your community more fulfilling?  

Start working on that one now.  And while you are doing it, don't be fooled into thinking that this is just a question for those in our community who are stereotypically and traditionally isolated and living on the fringe.  This question and its implications apply to all of us-- perhaps moreso for those of us who so deftly mask our alienation and discontent with markers of privilege and material.  We're gonna be coming to you over and over again over the next few weeks, months and year to explore this question, the answers, and how we can make your dream, our dream come alive!!!

You should also know and be encouraged, that there are people in are very midst who are already dreaming, building, and acting together within the context of a new community venue that we are calling the Opportunity Circle.  Already they are pursuing and achieving more fulfilling lives for themselves and their community.  They will be sharing their dreams with all of us on the 25th of this month; and during that same time we look forward to sharing how we can make this happen for you-- and for all of us.  Until then and beyond-

See you in my dreams, our dreams.