I Have Hope — Change In Ferguson

It bugs me that I’ve gotten so many comments from people behind the scenes, some direct, some veiled in ‘just curious’ questions, regarding why I’ve thrown my support behind a christian church in Ferguson that was burned to the ground when I’m not ‘religious’ and I’m associated with the Jewish faith.

There’s a very long, nuanced discussion there and I’m happy to have it with the people who are asking for the right reasons, and I’ll give some of that below, but honestly the one word answer is ‘hope’.

The longer answer is that I feel for the other business owners and their families, but if I’m going to place my bets on ‘change’ then I’m going to do it with an organization that doesn’t have the pressures and agendas that a for-profit business is going to have.

I believe that people can rise to the occasion in these circumstances and become more than they ever thought they could be. I have hope that Pastor Carlton Lee and his family will make use of the microphone this gives them and surprise even themselves.

I have hope that seeing donations coming from people of all races, ethnicities, and beliefs will make an impact on how their church community sees the world. It’s hard to ignore a physical structure that surrounds you every day that was built by strangers who have faith in you. It’s a constant reminder that you can’t afford to divide others into simple categories. That you have a broader responsibility, that you are accountable.

I have hope that we can look across a ‘scrimmage line’ of police enforcement at a protest and realize that most of those faces don’t want to be there. Have no hatred. Are scared out of their minds, and doing a thankless, dangerous job.

I have hope that if we really want change we don’t call for the firing of every police officer, but instead we innovate about how to change the perspective within the communities to one of mutual respect. That we work together to take ride-alongs with the police, to view through each others eyes and show each other how we see what we see and how we might change things together. Because sending them somewhere else will only put the problem onto someone else’s shoulders.

I have hope that some officers will be invited to peoples homes and communities for dinner, will be engaged in lots of discussion that have the words ‘we’ in them when it comes to change and are held accountable by their conscious and not just a camera clipped to their shirt.

I have hope that those who cannot, or will not, see the light will be replaced by those who do…on both sides.

I have hope that we are big enough to see the whole picture, and not just a microcosm of the picture that validates what we want to believe. That takes brave leadership, introspection, and a willingness to own your part in this complex equation called society. I have hope it will appear.

I have hope that we look beyond just trying to ‘repair’ Ferguson and think much bigger about making it an example to the rest of the world about what can be done when you try.

I have hope that we try new things. While the emotions are much different at the moment, this is an opportunity and a challenge not unlike the corporations I work with face. You can thrive, or simply survive. Ferguson has been doing the latter for far too long, it’s a miserable way to live, and it’s going to take innovative thinking to try new experiments, and new approaches to change that.

I have hope that even those who I’ve contributed to, perhaps even the pastor himself, may not agree fully with my point of view but will be open to hearing the words just as I am to hearing his.

So I’ve placed my bets on who and what I think is best in position to make those hopes a reality. I may bet wrong, I may place my hope in the wrong place, but I have hope that’s not the case. Maybe that explains it a little better.

I have hope.

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