Friday, July 19, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue V

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine features a cover picture of an empty 'hoodie' and the headline After Trayvon [click to read]. THYME wants to look youth violence square in the face, hence we invite you with our cover to see Imago Dei, the 'Image of G-d.' For every publicized youth death, there are hundreds more that happen in our nation's big cities. John Donne is right to remind us:

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

The sentiment expressed by Donne should move us when we learn of any young person dead before their time. The young man who died, any young man who died, might have become instead the next Vivien Thomas [click to read], who developed surgical techniques that saved thousands of lives. Vivien Thomas was the victim of discrimination, not even allowed to be on the payroll of John's Hopkins as anything but a housekeeper, but Johns Hopkins was able to grow into the institution it is today, where Dr. Benjamin Carson could become Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Co-Director of The Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center. Prejudice can and should be overcome. Our young people need to see examples to follow; examples of action, not anger.

But how can we inspire the youth of our communities with the vision that they are essential participants in humanity? Here is One Example [click to read] of how positive role models can become involved in the lives of youth. A church can become the catalyst for creating relationships with kids and gifted people for them to emulate. We need to offer young people our best mentors and principles if they are to succeed.

Staunton's Office on Youth did just that in creating Terrific Tuesdays. Middle school and elementary school students got to participate in a variety of art and craft projects, including painting a mural on the wall of their community center [1.] Pastor Tony Evans works to create partnerships of suburban churches and inner city churches to provide resources and tutoring for young people. His Urban Alternative [click to read] offers hope Activist Star Parker, who went from welfare mother to creator of an urban affairs magazine, watched her office go up in flames during the Watts riots. She persisted in her mission and now is the director of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education [click to read].

These are the leaders America needs right now. Back in the 1970's a friend of mine traveled to Northern Ireland to do a paper on the situation there. He met people on both sides of the issue with deep-seated resentment, the victims of an ongoing bloody battle. He even interviewed Bernadette Devlin. What stuck with me from his research was how there were indeed people in Northern Ireland who were, in spite of the injustice and bloodshed they had experienced, seeking to heal their country.

Guided by Christian ideals of forgiveness and love for one's enemies, these unique individuals sought to bring about a reconciliation in their land. Reading the vicious 'tweets' and stories of racially motivated beatings after the Zimmerman verdict, one can only hope for such noble people to lead us now. Eric Holder's assertion that 'white people haven't suffered enough' needs to be weighed against real history. Many of us are in America because our ancestors fled oppression of all sorts. My Bavarian ancestors came to escape Bismark's exploitation. If we studied more real history we might all end up as friends. I have heard Egyptian Christians who have sought asylum in our country tell their stories.

As a child in Baltimore, some of my school teachers had escaped oppression in Eastern Europe. Baltimore's immigrant citizens came in waves, all having stories of fleeing famine, war and pestilence. The media had already convicted Zimmerman. 'Reasonable doubt' had not been put to rest. In this case, justice worked. It isn't about Zimmerman's morality or lack thereof, it is about proof. A media truly concerned about truth would tell us so. Leaders concerned for the youth of their cities would seek to lead us in healing, not hatred. Our concern should be directed toward redemption, not revenge. Every young person who dies or is not encouraged to flourish in our community diminishes us all. John Donne is right!

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