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August 5/First Quarter Moon
making the beloved community requires strength and integrity
Sometimes I read my last entry before moving into writing. And sometimes I am wearing the wrong eyes as I re-read. I look back to view what to take forward, but my eyes can be cruel enough to kill forward motion. I inherited this way of looking at myself and the things that I create from the society I was born and raised in. And I sometimes even see it as a habitual karma that has been passed forward to me from many many generations before. These ways of viewing ourselves and others have their own momentum and our wanting things to be different has a momentum too.
My data collection training took me to Atlanta, Georgia this last week. I had never been there. In my limited free time I planned to take public transport (my favorite) into the city and do some walking around. There is a National Historical Park there that includes the birthplace of Martin Luther King, where he lived and worked, and his final resting place. This town has its own karma, thank goodness.
I din’t have enough time to do Atlanta justice, I couldn’t even do justice to the National Historical Site that I visited, but I could at least find my way there and back to the hotel.
It was a 30 minute walk from the hotel through College Park to the nearest MARTA station. It started to rain. I almost stopped to eat in one of the many lovely looking restaurants I passed right there, near the airport and the hotel on my way to the station. There seemed to me to be an unexpectedly vibrant amount of food choices so in what seemed to me an industrial strip. Yet I persevered. Found MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). Figured out how to pay for it. The tracks run north to the center of the city and the walk from there was to the east and into the Old Fourth Ward. And it rained. I stopped at a liquor store to pick up a can of beer to bring back to my hotel and I took a few pictures and videos of the eternal flame near the Tomb where Martin Luther King is interred. And then ate at a place that was called “Edgewood Pizza” and had the “King Slice”. I choose that over the “Slutty Vegan” which looked to be good and very popular but was too busy for me.
After I ordered a Lyft to take me back to the hotel. Next time I will take a little longer and also go to the National Center for Civil Rights but I was nervous to get back and get prepared for training the next morning. Letting my future self know, don’t worry so much, next time stay and walk a little longer. Atlanta has a rich history of Black Leadership and at least I absorbed a little of it through my pores.
The study I am to collect data for, HS&B, will be collecting data across the country, from big cities to small towns and therefore my fellow data collectors are from all over themselves. There are 920 high schools involved and about 24,700 9th graders will be interviewed this first data collection period. The study will follow them to 12th grade and then on to their adult life to see what factors contribute to success. In my last experience of data collection I was moving between city middle schools to small country middle schools and I expect I will again get to travel to outstate schools with this study. It mirrors my life a bit, traveling between city and small town and country. That divide between city and country interests me much. There is much distrust and hate between the two. I hear it all the time. I think we need each other. Life is hard for a lot of folks here in this city right now. It was apparent in Atlanta as well. I don’t think it is much better outstate. It’s perhaps just a lot less visible. And that is where I started with all this, the eyes which with we look upon things matter.
On November 12, 1961 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited Mankato. He gave two sermons at Centenary United Methodist Church and a speech at Mankato High School. Just at the end of the Freedom Rides. He visited that high school before mom had yet arrived to high school from her single room school house, but she was soon to be in the room where that happened. Who knows who of her people was in that room? That speech that MLK gave was standing room only. He was willing to go wherever the message needed to go and he wanted people to care about the future we are creating together. He told that crowd: We live in an interconnected world. We must confront white supremacy head on. And find creative ways to protest.
His words were often poetry. As King said, “Hate destroys the hater as well as the hated.” That brings me back to the Pema Chodron quote on patience that I included at the end of my new moon post. Time is moving quickly these days. And yet there is a lot of time. Patience to me is like meditation, taking the time to sit with and look at the things you don’t want to see. But there are so many ways to look at things and the state of your eyes matter. I believe Jesus had the eye of love. As did Martin Luther King. Thich Nhat Hanh. Loving in the face of hate is a powerful act and it takes a lot of energy. And often times the lover is the hated one and will be the one that is destroyed. Although Martin Luther King was killed, his distroyal (I know, not a word) was attempted, he is still creating, now more than ever. The loss of him was huge and yet he had done so much he could never die. So I will leave this post where I left the last one. With the patience quote. But first I will say, this post deserves much revision. It needs transitions between its different things. I am happy how it came together. There is a magic that happened here, but I have to stop before it is complete.
Thanks to all that support this work.
Patience is an enormously supportive and even magical practice. It’s a way of completely shifting the fundamental human habit of trying to resolve things by either going to the right or the left, labeling things “good” or labeling them “bad.” It’s the way to develop fearlessness, the way to contact the seeds of war and the seeds of lasting peace—and to decide which ones we want to nurture.
Much love, Tina