Why does it keep getting higher and higher? Why is it ever harder to see through? Why is it just so hard to penetrate? I am speaking metaphorically about the divide that we find between Baltimore City and its surrounding suburbs. Two sets of people living very near each other but leading such different lives—there must be a wall that is separating. And it is truly preventing both sides from meaningful interaction.
Sure it is easy to peak over. My neighbors and I can watch the evening news and say, “That is too bad!” We can go to work in our hermetically sealed cars or take the Light Rail to a decidedly singular terminus. We can eat or be entertained but make sure to be home by 10:30! We can send in a can of soup or lasagna or some old pants but where is the real relationship that people truly thrive on?
I am struck by the willingness of my faith tradition to form partnerships with peoples from other countries, to develop meaningful relationships with them, to learn about their struggles, the food they eat, what makes them tick. But we have no such partnerships with our brothers and sisters from Baltimore. I’m afraid this is the Katrina syndrome—that we wait for a crisis before we reach out.
A 30 year resident of Baltimore County, I am as guilty of these indiscretions as any. I am working on changing this, though. As the new chair of the OSI-Baltimore trustees, I would invite you to join me and change your course, too. Get more involved with your civic or faith organizations. Urge, no insist, that they develop a relationship with a sister organization in Baltimore. Or if you are affiliated with a Baltimore group, make a renewed effort to become known outside the city limits. If you are already involved, kick it up a notch! Dedicated partnerships are win/win as both sides learn about the other and focus life through new eyes. As President Obama has stated so eloquently, all of us need to be involved individuals; we can’t just leave it to professionals.
What a wonderful time to do this! We are entering a time of change, the spirit of cooperation and hope is filling the air despite the economic clouds that hang low. The word “inclusiveness” is coming back to our lexicon. Surely we can develop passion for efforts that don’t require one to wear purple. Yes, just as a sports team can break down that wall, so can the need for compassionate relationship.
The world is indeed getting smaller. The better we know our neighbors, the better we will know ourselves and I can’t help but think that is a good thing.