Each time there is an event, such as what has been happening in Charlotte this week, we are reminded of the unrest in our region two years ago and we have to deal with our collective post-traumatic stress. I am mindful that most react to stress with a fight or flight posture. To flee, in its simplest terms, is to throw our hands up, retreat from discussion and action, and accept conditions as they are. To flee means that we have succumb to fatalism, the belief that we have no control over how our narrative is written and what the end looks like. I am afraid we will see more towns across our great country in pain if we do not listen to the voices of discontent, whether they are the laid off workers in Granite City or the inner city youth who believe a “me against the world” mentality.
There is something happening in this country and now is not the time to flee and point fingers of blame. Instead, now is a crucial time for us to cast an inclusive vision and fight to help people see pathways to life more abundant.
We have to understand the broader narrative: many people in our country and our region feel a sense of hopelessness and a lack of influence over their destiny. This is a time for vision casting and hard work. I am reminded of the theologian Walter Brueggemann who said, “Our culture is competent to implement almost anything and to imagine almost nothing”.
We need to help individuals who want to work, attain work. We need to help our youth learn the skills that will position them to compete for jobs and prepare for their future by graduating high school and choosing two- or four-year degrees, trade or military careers. We need a new sense of imagination for how companies, nonprofits and government can work differently and collectively to achieve these aims.
Brueggemann continues, “…it is our role to keep alive the ministry of imagination to keep on conjuring and proposing alternative futures.”