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Beating Down a Community – A Case Study

To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beating down an old community is defeating the purpose of our being.” As I reflect on my lifetime in Memphis, I realize that when it comes to “community” there is no end to what we as individuals can do for the most dysfunctional and impoverished neighborhoods in our city. The only point is, not to beat them down. Not to leave them poor and worse off than they were when we arrived.

When you think about the impact that a third-grade kid from a broken home can have on a high school student, the impact that a homeless woman can have on a college student or a drug addict or a mentally handicapped person, a community is judged by the caliber of its citizens. Not by the lack of children, or the presence of adult criminals, or the dearth of God’s children.

Like any other country, the United States is a country of immigrants. When we bring people into our country, it’s our obligation to nurture and build a thriving community.

Just recently, I read an interesting article titled, “Why Michael Pewlett Does Not Wish To Be Homeless.” Although we may think of our lives as akin to tents in the Great Outdoors, a modern American community is not like that. It is built on foundations of family and kinship, of a life work, a home and a safe place to call home.

In an interview with an author of a book entitled, “Anatomy of a Dream: Building an Everlasting Community,” the author talks about how the “blessing of being born in a poor neighborhood (with nothing but an absence of cash) had changed his life (and my life).” One that has been enriched and given him direction in many ways.

A real estate agent from a large Southern city says that “one has to understand that one has to sell a lot of properties in a very competitive market and he is not going to sell a few houses or a real estate family building program. He needs a community.”

Michael Pewlett says, “It is not what I am trying to accomplish; it is what we can do as a society that will get the job done.” I believe he is right and I agree wholeheartedly. It’s a matter of perspective.

We all feel the pain and frustration and even fury of those who are in the public servants who feel they are right. It is unfortunate, but they should know better.

Although we continue to struggle economically, the personal and spiritual prosperity that we each have known is still alive and well in our communities. Whether we agree with them or not, it is still true that our neighbors are our friends and in some cases our families.

Indeed, if you want to make a difference and have an impact on others, you will have to create a community where people are not in competition for what they don’t have, but instead for what they do have. Think about it and be inspired.

Recently, Michael Pewlett wrote, “After reading Paul Carrel’s newest novel “The Butcher Boy,” I realized it is up to all of us to take this opportunity, in our own homes, and in our own lives, to appreciate each other, each day, in this little slice of heaven.” A beautiful quote that says it all.

If you are looking for a way to kick your negative energy into high gear and find purpose and joy in your life, maybe you should take up the guitar, start a band, join a choir or take up a hobby or activity that you love. Do something you enjoy doing it with others. Maybe you can start a community church group, a volunteer group or even get together to go fishingand/or enjoy each other’s company.