Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dear Paradise II: Another Love Letter to My Community

As long as I breathe, I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!
-Leon Trotsky

Dear Family, friends, community members, associates one and all,

You may be a parent, teacher, police officer, young person, community activist, or someone angered by what you see wrong in Jamaica, Mobay and Paradise. I would like to invite you into a space of uncompromised honesty. Let us engage each other in conversation, not primarily as scholars wanting to defend a theory, or as politicians seeking to win votes or advance a public policy agenda, or even as activists fighting for a cause, but instead, just as human beings trying to understand, as clearly as possible, our situation and condition at this turbulent moment in history.

As activists or community member I am sure your anger is sparked by gun violence, youth unemployment, classism, social justice or inequality — or you simply don’t understand why some people are upset — you are not alone. Like many, you might feel helpless, thinking, “I could never make a real difference or lasting change.” But you’d be wrong. Humans are such a complex species. We could not figure out the mind of a human, no matter how hard we tried. Psychology touches on some of the behavioral and thought processes that are experienced by a human, but Psychology will never be completely factual because the human brain is far too complicated.

We want the world to be a happy and just place, maybe it will or won’t be so. But you must know that change comes from parents and teachers who instill the power of critical thinking in children and teens. It comes from leaders who build relationships between diverse people and organizations. It comes from everyday people who think deeply about problems and solutions. How does this happen? We cannot begin to make effective change in our communities until we recognize how we are intricately connected to the people and issues we want to change.

Community is like family; and like all families, we may not always get along or see eye-to-eye. But just like my daughter likes to say, ‘family sticks together and helps one another.” Community is about people who care about one another and are willing to be united for the betterment of the greater good.

Now the other day a community member, one Teacher P/QP picked my brain with a question or more like a quote he had read, it went like this “Of all the follies in which man indulges there is none greater than the folly of thinking one can change the world!” He said he shared it because I was one of the few people who could fathom it in the immediate environment. I wondered if it was that he thought that my activities trying to better the community were in vain. I think he expected me to contemplate and give him a response. The quote did blow me away for a few days.

But a few days later the universe it seems gave me the answer. I don’t remember what I was watching on Youtube but some speaker had said, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, is to offer you something you already have. He would have you believe you are nothing and insignificant and unable to affect your destiny or impact the world without his help. But therein is the lie, for from the moment you enter the world it is already fundamentally changed, your presence has already impacted lives, for you life has altered your mother and father, the spaces you inhabit.

Now to be honest I haven’t shared the answer in person with Teacher P but ironically I found our dialogue mirrored in an episode of Star Trek… yeah I am a trekkie… especially seeing one of the characters was called Q, but the conversation went like this:
Hear this, Picard, and reflect: "All the galaxy is a stage."... "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Perhaps maybe a little, uh, Hamlet?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
Oh, I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony, I say with conviction: "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god!"

Surely, you don't see your species like that, do you?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
I see us one day becoming that, Q. Is it that which concerns you?
I put all this to say that, granted much is wrong with the community I am truly grateful for stilling having a space where discuss my love relationship with the community. I believe when we lift others we rise together. Through discourse, discussion and debate. It is no coincidence Paradise has a spot called debate corner, it is not for the faint of heart. More than ever we must remember to help others. We are all where we are because someone helped us along our journey. I wanted to share a letter of thanks to the community for all you’ve done and meant to me. When all is said and done, I hope I will have done more than I said. As I remain optimistic and realistic in this gloomy and slow times, I close with the following:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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