(Read Part One of this blog, “I cried for my neighbors.”)
As I stayed home Wednesday, I finally had a chance to relax a little and not get caught up in TV media coverage. But questions still linger about the death of Freddie Gray and police accountability. While I can’t answer those questions. I can say there are many voices that need to be heard and many actions that need to be done.
First, I would like to say that I do hear everyone’s concerns. I have heard all sides, and while I don’t have to agree with everyone, I will continue to support the right to peaceful assembly. I will not supported sharing your “message” through violence. That’s how misunderstandings happen and messages get lost. Keep it simple if you want to draw attention to your cause, whatever it may be.
Secondly, many people who don’t live in the area are wondering what they can do to help. I have some ideas for you:
1. Keep the conversation going.
When things are troubling we can talk about this rationally like adults and, hopefully, explain to our kids how to be heard, just like the students who marched from Penn Station today, without resorting to violence. Remember that it’s okay to take sides but be careful when you don’t have all of the facts. Reacting out of fear or anger never helps the situation.
2. Participate in a peaceful protest.
If you happen upon a group you agree with and they will be peacefully demonstrating, feel free to join in. Many times, these are are also family friendly and it reiterates what I mentioned in the first point. It’s amazing what people can do when they come together for a common cause.
3. Keep praying.
As I walked the neighborhood Tuesday, I said the rosary and the St. Michael prayer many times. That photo of me from the NY Daily News wasn’t for show. I grabbed one of the guys helping to keep the peace and told him what we were going to do. We happened to be joined but the man in the orange shirt. People were doing lots of talking and shouting but not enough praying. Whether you lead a group in prayer or just remember throughout the day. Prayer is a powerful weapon and we must deploy it often. It keeps us in touch with God and the needs of our fellow human beings.
Image via James Keivom | New York Daily News
4. Keep doing God’s work.
Serve the poor. Volunteer. Donate time or money. Remember, this is what the Church does and we will continue to do. Have you seen the viral photo of the little boy offering water to police officers? Sometimes it’s small actions like that which make a huge difference. Did you hear about the mother and her child (7 years old with cerebral palsy) who lost their home, and her son’s much needed wheelchair, when the neighboring store was set on fire? You can read that story here and visit their donation page http://www.wbaltv.com/news/fire-destroys-store-home-of-mother-disabled-son/32631276. Of course there are shop owners and employees who lost their only means of making a living. Be on the lookout for a spike in need at food pantries and other places serving the poor and marginalized. Be there to lend food and support. Help others find employment and help rebuild businesses around town. No one deserved what happened to them, even if it was a liquor store.
Thing of it all is that we have been so comfortable for so long, that the need for change has kind of exploded in our faces. We are, again, reminded that our livelihoods could be taken away at any time for any reason. We may find ourselves like the one mother, Tracy, whose place of employment for the last four years was looted and she no longer has means to support her three children.
What we decide to do here and now, no matter how you choose to help, will help us rebuild this city, our communities, and strengthen our faith. We must find a way to help each other, no matter where you live. We much continue to fight for the poor and marginalized. We must continue to find ways to uplift and enrich.
Oh, and if you happen to have skills in counseling or mental health, your skills are always needed for not only the kids, but for many who have lost hope. Seek out schools where the counselors might be overwhelmed.
Please leave comments on more ways to help. Especially creative ways that can be done with the family. While everyone may not appreciate the help and attention, I will be the first to say, “Thank you.”