Only a few in Selma continue to create divisionPublished 8:29pm Saturday, March 16, 2013
“So, let us not be blind to our differences. But let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
In this commencement address to American University graduates on June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy uttered the above famous words.
The context of the messages was offering a hope for open dialogue with the then Soviet Union, focusing that through all the politics, all the differences, there are basic, fundamental wants and wishes everyone has.
It is our opinion these words ring true today, nearly 50 years after they were first delivered. No longer do we build bunkers in our backyards worrying of nuclear missile attack from Cuba. Instead, we find ways to build bunkers — and walls — between those in our own communities we find to have differences such as race, religion or social status.
Maybe we should read Kennedy’s words all over again. Maybe we should read these words daily and remember — as Kennedy said in that very same speech — that “our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”
For far too long Selma has operated with some deep divisions. They appear at many levels, but are often planted, fertilized, tended and harvested upon by a few for a variety of reasons.
Maybe there are those who look to profit from division and conflict. Maybe there are those who get some sort of sick enjoyment over the heated discussions, frivolous lawsuits, allegations and rumors.
For the rest of us — those who have lives to enjoy — we have basic, fundamental wants. And it is these wants and wishes for our families, our children and our neighbors that are basic and fundamental whether you are white, black, yellow or any other category.
For the rest of us — those who want a strong and vibrant community — we want good schools for our children, whether that be at a private school or a public school. We want safe streets, regardless of which ward they are in.
For the rest of us — those who have worked tirelessly to battle a sluggish economy — we want job opportunities that afford us the chance to support our families. We want job opportunities for our neighbors across the street or across town.
For the rest of us — those who believe we should treat others, as we would like to be treated — we want to celebrate and practice our faith, regardless of the church, temple, synagogue, mosque or chapel.
For us, these things are just a few of the beliefs, wants and rights that unite us all; unite us as brothers and sisters and as Selmians.
There are those who have a loud microphone and a tall podium from which to drive their wedges in our community. We must remember they are few in number, short in understanding and weakening in their abilities to have an impact on what is our city, our community, our neighborhood, our Selma.