We gathered around the dinner table tonight , about 12 -15 people in a little place called the Village, here in Binghampton in Memphis TN. The topic of conversation: young people and violence. The sorrow of another young person killed in another American school just reported, it seems as if there is a palpable increase in the level of violence in this American city over the past few months and the mood in the room is a mix of veiled grief, and light-hearted southern humor. We begin by sharing stories and asking questions. What are the causes? Why? What might we do? How to understand a society founded and sustained by violence and bloodshed? Are we really that different from the violent gangs and individuals we hear about? Are they not a startling reflection of our own fearful and angry lives?
Out of the conversation we offer a possibility: what if we go to the schools in Memphis - not trying to fix anything - but to offer regular listening sessions with the students? What if we bring the local media with us to offer the students an opportunity to be heard and understood? Rather than simply reacting to the next outbreak of violence why not begin an ongoing time of listening and building relationships with the young people in Memphis? " Could take a long time", one perceptive person commented. Do we dare?
In the Struggle...In Hope...Together...