Let’s Get Together and Be All Right

There is strength in the company of others, from “We, the people” to “We shall overcome.” James Dunn, as reported by Bill Moyers

How could we the people not just overcome this economy but thrive? Several powerful tips come from Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS of October 24, 2008 (www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10242008/watch3.html):

1. Speak your joys and concerns and ask for prayers about them. The model given in Moyers’ show is a small Baptist church in a section of New York known as Hell’s Kitchen, where it’s often hard to hear what’s said in the church due to the traffic noise outside. But in that church, joys and concerns are blessed, and the concerns Moyers reported are much like the ones that many of us have.

2. Tap the power of our humility and common humanity. Moyers had gone to the church to hear his friend of 50 years, James Dunn, speak. Dunn spoke of “The humility that befits all humanity’, ‘the hurt that afflicts every heart,’ and, ‘the hope that comes with community,’ an old theme in American history,” reported Moyers. Those phrases were not explained, but they are ripe and juicy for your own interpretation.

3. Sing your pain and your joy with others. Moyers’ guest on the 24th was Mark Johnson, founder of Playing for Change. www.playingforchange.org For 10 years, Johnson had filmed people all around the world, many from some of the poorest and most troubled places, singing “Stand By Me,” “One Love (let’s get together and feel all right)” and other songs to the same beat and same pitch with their own unique voices. The seamless blend flows easily among street musicians in New Orleans and Amsterdam, a sitar player in India, a classical cellist in Russia, a choir in South Africa, and others. As my husband John and I watched and listened, tears and laugher flowed easily. There was so much response to the show from other viewers that Moyers repeated the segment on December 5th with a new lead-in.

4. Be open to inspiration and creative courage at all times. Johnson’s inspiration for Playing for Change came from joining a crowd of people who were transfixed by the singing of two monks in a subway in New York City. Many thought he was very naive to take on such a big job. “[N]aïve is thinking that there’s any other choice [than to] come together. And to inspire each other because that’s the way that we’ll create a better world for us now and for the kids tomorrow,” Johnson told Moyers in the “Journal” segment. “[W]e don’t even know how long we’re going to be in this world. The most important thing is while we’re here, let’s make a difference together.”

5. Watch Moyers’ PBS segment with others, and dare to dream a healthy economy for all. www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/10242008/watch3.html

After you watch the segment, find an appropriate time to be in silence together, as people are silent in a Quaker worship service. Speak from your heart when called. As each person speaks, listen as carefully as Moyers always listens to his guests.

Without responding, go back into the silence to savor what was said, without judgment. As each new person speaks, listen and return to the silence.

When you are ready for dialogue, here are some questions to consider:

What strength do you find in the company of others?
What music (or art or writing) makes you feel most united to others and empowered to give your best to the common good?
How do Johnson and the musicians inspire you? What do they call you to do?
What’s your blessing for the work we are all called to do to stand by each other and get together to help make it all right for all of us?

If you are new to this blog, please click on “About the Challenge” at the upper right of today’s post. Start anytime, and take as long as you wish.

Come back real soon with your own insights and inspiration, Pat McHenry Sullivan

copyright 2008 by Pat McHenry Sullivan