(Observations from Mary Gibson McCoy, President, Cultural Crossroads, Inc.)
As a general rule, opening with a definition is not my preferred literary device and it may even be considered a somewhat “lazy” writing tool; but, some days, it is unavoidable. Today, the word “juxtaposition” fairly leapt into my consciousness and I could not ignore it. (“Juxtaposition” is, of course, the “state of being close together” or the “instance of placing close together…especially for comparison or contrast.” www.dictionary.com) Comparison seems to demand imposition of a value judgment. If every reader would consider these comparisons, I suspect most would conclude with similar value judgments.
Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 12th Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner sponsored by Dialogue Institute of the Southwest (http://dialoguekc.org/). This event brings several hundred people together in friendship and peace, to talk and share food and conversation. This year’s theme was “Global Warming of Hearts – Love and Acceptance” and that warming was as evident as the diversity of the diners. People from many lands and religions conversed with new and old friends over dinner. One might conclude, from the friendship so evident among that diverse gathering, that the world is composed of friendship and peace.
This morning, I awoke to what I can only term a “horrendous” front page, with lead articles about US missiles attacks in Syria – on the same day that Kansas City commemorated the centennial of the US entry into that “war to end all wars” at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Other front-page articles cover in-fighting in the Senate, investigations in the House of Representatives, and the US ability to conduct long-range air strikes. One might conclude, from the newspaper articles, that the world is composed only of hatred and conflict.
“Friendship and peace” or “hatred and conflict” – the world is actually composed of both extremes and it is incumbent upon all of us to support the former over the latter.
For balance, I stood in the cool morning and marveled at the sunrise. The bands of blue and gold, grey and aqua, that colored the sky reminded me of the trails of red-white-and-blue smoke from the Patrouille de France planes flying over the WWI Memorial…but the bands of color in the morning sky speak of promise, not war. The sounds of woodpeckers hard at work mingled with the chorus of songbirds and, in my mind, contrasted with the scream of cruise missiles.
I was reminded of another experience: As we sat in the dark under the trees at the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on the evening of September 11, 2001, the peaceful silence was broken only by the ancient sound of elks bugling across the meadow, and one of our companions, singer-songwriter Lori Carlson, observed, “In the real world, nothing happened today.”
I cling to that memory, as I hold also to the warmth of last night’s interfaith gathering and not to this morning’s shouting headlines.
At Cultural Crossroads, our vision is a society which honors the heritage of our diverse cultures amid a climate of mutual respect and a shared future. Cultural Crossroads stands for a world of friendship and peace and we invite you to join us in holding to that vision.
In the “real” world, there is Hope.