Tag Archives: Ferguson

Walking the Walk

ב”ה     الحمد لله

As I posted previously, I’ve been living here in Oakland and wondering what to do to connect with the larger community here, especially in light of the latest police-related deaths.  And then, in what felt like a gracious gift from On High, I got an email from my stepson’s school, which listed a protest march scheduled for Saturday.  The exquisite way this event fit into my life and schedule is hard to describe, but I’ll try.

  • I don’t always immediately read through the school emails, but this one I did
  • The event was billed as a peaceful demonstration, appropriate for family and kids
  • The organizers were calling for specific action, rather than just expressing anger/outrage
  • The timing was the afternoon on the Sabbath, comfortably after morning services and the kiddush lunch that follows, a time when I’m always free
  • The location was a half hour walk from the synagogue.

This last point was crucial, since on the Sabbath my only mode of transportation is my feet!

And boy did I use them yesterday.  Approximately nine miles, all told.  But it was great to see all walks of life walking together, a spectrum of ages, a range of colors, all united in purpose.

I felt connected, purposeful, and part of something larger than myself.

So it was a nice first step, if you will.

And today, the ache in my legs feels like a well-earned reminder of precious time on this earth well spent.

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Now That’s More Like It

الحمد لله‎   ב”ה

So I’m living here in Oakland now.

I’ve been feeling the need to connect and/or be responsive to the people around me.  I see a fair amount of suffering and poverty, as well as the slightly hardened way many people walk when they are surrounded by folks in need.  And I need to do something different.

I have been doing my usual thing: I smile to people as I walk, and I give to folks who are in need, but I feel like I’ve been blessed with a lot and I should share more of it.  Share more of my money, my time, my self.

There have been protests here lately as well, and I haven’t taken the time to find out where and when they are, and if there is some agenda there that I can support.  I was actually traveling on a road trip through Saint Louis back in August when Michael Brown was shot.  I was 25 miles away when it happened.  Feels odd to be so disconnected from the aftermath.

There has, of course, been a lot of emotional response to the event.  So many of us think we know what happened, even though we weren’t there, even though the eyewitness testimony is so all over the map.  Because we tend to see events like this through a pre-determined lens of however we already understand the world to be.

But what I see is that even though I have little idea exactly what happened in Ferguson, I do see communities that are so angry and resentful over years of exclusion and mistreatment that a single incident of this kind can induce riots.  What kind of a country are we living in when a large segment of the population is that bitter?

And there of course the over-reactions to those reactions, and so on.  A lack of any kind of reasonable public discourse, it has seemed to me.

So I was pleasantly surprised to read Chris Martin’s http://chrismartinwrites.com/2014/11/26/open-letter-to-the-parents-of-michael-brown/.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do.  But I do appreciate the thoughtful and feeling response to tragedy.  Nicely done.