©2017 Ginger Hertenstein
Community Conversation 3
Community in Unity
A conversation among leaders and citizens for the flourishing of Duncanville
This Community Conversation grew out of the Community in Unity Festival in October 2016. Prior to that time, division began to grow in our nation. We wanted to bring people together, to stand together in unity. But what does it take to have unity? The goal of these conversations has been to foster an environment where unity can grow. Each week we looked at a different aspect of community life where we have options to grow closer as neighbors.
Conversation One reminded us that this nation’s founders were infused with a willingness to take risky steps of faith. As a result, when their efforts seemed all for naught, God turned the tables for their good, and their great endeavors were achieved. In addition, people who decided to live a life of commitment to the greater good overcame obstacles that seemed impossible, displaying the power of someone who gives up his own position so that the whole can succeed. What if, in 2017, we would assume that attitude?
Conversation Two reminded us that our Creator gave us a mandate to build cities. We looked at the stained glass windows of the National Cathedral which display the work of teachers, the government, business owners, the church, and many others. Our mayor, David Green, calls this “the four-legged stool.” All spheres make important contributions, but when one sphere dominates, corruption occurs. Thus, God alone oversees our work. Holding collective respect for God is essential. When we abandon our faith and live for our own personal views, “ME” takes precedence over “WE,” which creates an environment ripe for competition and disharmony.
Conversation Three focused on stories about giving generously to lift each other up, whether we are rich or poor. An attitude of generosity rather than scarcity helps a community solve all kinds of economic shortcomings. A widow in debt was helped by the community and then she, in turn, helped them. A handicapped boy, who was nurtured and taught to do more than he could possibly see himself doing, saved his town. The gifts of the poor, no matter how small, are important to the well-being of the city. But those who have much, yet, do not give, find themselves on the outside. When facing a challenge remember, “anyone can not do it.”
Conversation Four with Police Chief Robert Brown and two of his officers, set the vision of a community interested in building mutual respect. Two videos helped us understand the sense of accountability our police feel about things that have gone wrong in the past between the police and citizens. A third video showed Duncanville police handling a potential deadly situation with three teenagers in a way that led to a positive outcome. It made us proud of our Duncanville Police. Their message is summed up in this attitude: “If it is important to you, it is important to us. You can trust us.”
Conversation Five was led by Pastor Roy Watson who spoke on overcoming racial barriers through relationships, caring, and trust. Using the story of the Good Samaritan, Pastor Roy helped us understand how people sometimes feel like outsiders, when they are ignored by others. Yet when we reach across those lines to get involved with someone who is different from ourselves, a whole new and positive relationship can unfold. This often takes us out of our comfort zones, but communities will only become truly unified if we do just that.
Conversation Six explored investing in the next generation. We heard from Gwen Brown, who spoke about the Interact Club at Duncanville High School. The club mentors youth in leadership skills and service projects. Jeff Thorpe, a DHS teacher, spoke about the need to listen to our youth and come alongside them. Finally, we heard a story about two WWII enemies, an American rookie who came into contact with a seasoned German ace pilot, who was intent on shooting them down. Instead he escorted the American plane safely out of Germany because when he was a rookie, his superior had taught him invaluable lessons about living and acting with character, even in war.
Thus, for six weeks we embarked on a discovery of what creates unity. In the process, we have made some new friends. We have learned that unity involves having faith; using our talents to make a contribution; and giving, even when we don’t believe we can. We’ve learned we have a willing police force who is inviting us to work with them.
Our successful time together proves that our racial and generational diversity are tremendous gifts. Are you reaching out as a neighbor to those who are different? Are you sharing your wisdom and rich experiences with someone who is younger than you? If you are young, are you seeking an elder to mentor you?
Thank you for participating! If you would like to be part of an action group that focuses on one of these topics, please let us know! Without YOU, there’s an empty space no one else can fill.
Do you want to be involved?
Thanks to Kasey Cheshier for opening his store,
setting up the sound system, and providing