The mayor and some clergy, as well as other unnamed “community leaders,” have issued a call for people coming together under a banner labeled as Piqua United. I believe “her honor” spoke from the heart as she wrote:
“It was time to bring our community together and bring to fruition what had been on my heart for months and months …and somehow wrap loving arms around us as a city and give ourselves one big hug! All my life, I have been one who works hard to include everyone at the table. This is my leadership style and when there is division and pain, I am one to jump into that pain and find ways to bring those who are hurting together for a time of healing. The truth is that this is what we, as humans, have been created for and called to do! We have been created to love one another and to hold each other in the light; especially in times of great darkness!
Friends, our children, now more than ever, need us to model for them how to harmoniously live together, how to be kind to one another, and what it means to be a good neighbor one to the other … It seems that we are more about pointing out how we are different then how we are the same, and our community of Piqua, Ohio is no different from the next … it is happening everywhere!”
I believe the mayor and I are “likeminded” in many respects but offer some contrasting world views that I, too, will offer in a heartfelt critique in standing with her as one, but I am only one, who nearly all of his adult life has spoken to the need of bringing people together and honoring God and memorializing and valuing the sacrificial elements of our parents, elders, and ancestors in the quest to promote a more perfect union, build a just society, and create an inclusive historical heritage by doing the right thing through an “ownership identity.”
Mayor, just maybe Piqua needs an attitude adjustment first before we are deserving of one big community hug!
Years ago after telling Piqua leadership over and over again how to learn from our past and become more proactive in telling our story from a more inclusive historical context, I spoke at the Giles Park dedication before our current mayor had come to town, and I addressed the issue of leaders wanting to bring people together at the table so that we might, with civility and kindness, sit and break bread together in recognition of our common humanity. I remember (now with the clarity of senioritis) at that park dedication referencing Malcolm X, who said:
“I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner … Sitting at the table doesn’t make you a diner. You must be eating some of what’s on that plate. Being here in America doesn’t make you an American. Being born here in America doesn’t make you an American.”
Even with the nastiness of the immigration initiatives of the current administration and the divisive references to the others — there are still many Americans who profess to be color-blind and argue profusely that we are all Americans. They are blind and will not see!
Isaiah 6:9 reads: “And He replied, ‘Go and tell this people: Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’”
I perceive with a level of discernment that there may be different motives in play at this time of seeking the truth, and in my heart and mind, I believe there is a desire on the part of some to quiet the dissenters. There is an effort afoot to ignore, deny, or trivialize the redress of justifiable grievances, to squelch the loud protestations of those in pain and suffering from a national leadership that will not acknowledge mistakes or apologize for even unintended errors of consequence. At the local level, many in positions of leadership convey an attitude reflective of those national figures who are only interested in preserving the status quo and projecting a strong, defiant, heavy-handed, and hard-hearted leadership style of governance.
I, too, was blind, but now I see, and like the blind Bartimaeus of Mark 10:46-52, I have been begging city leaders and the clergy of the community to do the right thing, but they have rebuked me in an effort to quiet my calling, but because I promised to be totally committed to Jesus, I will not be quieted but use my voice to speak out all the more!
John 9:39-40 reads: “Then Jesus declared, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind may see and those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard this, and they asked Him, “Are we blind, too?’”
Jesus is calling out to all of us, asking what it is he can do for us, and like Bartimaeus, we should prayerfully request the recovery of our sight in recognizing whose we are matters who we are as we attempt to portray ourselves as “children of the light.”
I’ll continue to hope that Piqua will “do the right thing” and not lose sight of the community benefit, for which we can come together and stand in solidarity with Piqua United!
View “The Community Benefit: A 400 Year Memorial Observance and Piqua Leadership in Healing America” on youtube.com.
Larry Hamilton is a retired Piqua High School teacher and a resident of Piqua.