In recent weeks it has been a matter of some chagrin to me that my Yahoo! News feed keeps bringing articles from major outlets that prove in my estimation to have far less merit than my own; while my own work continues to be ignored.
Frankly, it seems to me that my work is on a par with that of the Washington Post columnists. I see myself as in that league. If I can find my way there, my goal would be not so much to set forth my own views, as to alter the direction of public discourse; to influence, perhaps even at a national level, the way people talk about the great questions of our time.
That’s a different place than where I am now. What can I personally do now? What is within my reach? I looked around me.
I need to choose how I relate to my neighbors at the homeless shelter where I stay.
This is the great question of my time.
If you attend to the media at all, certainly you’d think racism is one of the great questions of our time. A recent piece by Sean McElwee seems to seek to remind us once again that the well-being of black people is wholly dependent on the “racial resentment” of whites.
Circa 1995, Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester project was announced with great fanfare and unlimited optimism. It was hailed as a pioneering new model of public-private partnership and community involvement. Today, as Paul Marx recently noted in The Sun, “Now about 25 years and more than $100 million later comes the news that there are more people from Sandtown-Winchester held in state prisons than there are from any other census tract in the state.” Here was Freddie Gray arrested.
Did the forces of “racial resentment” somehow, inexplicably, focus themselves on this one census tract, so that it declined more precipitously than any other? No. In a field of random motions, if many particles happen to move in the same direction at the same time, a wave forms. What happened in Sandtown-Winchester is a function of how the people who happened to be there, happened to choose to relate to themselves and one another.
The great questions of our time are not what you’ll read about online. You won’t see them on TV.
Will you choose to love your neighbor?
Will you choose to love yourself?
These are the great questions of our time.
Originally posted 2015-04-18.