By Ernie McCrayflickr.com
Why is it so hard for people to love one another, especially when all it takes is a mere gesture, a smile, a gentle meeting of the eyes, a willingness to listen to our fellow human beings with an open heart?
We much too often blow easy opportunities to express our love. Like the situation in La Jolla with the organizers of the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade. They won’t even consider using an adjective other than Christmas in the name of the parade, knowing that such a giving gesture would make more people feel comfortable and at ease at the festive celebration, unburdened by their religious beliefs and life philosophies, having a good time in a spectacularly beautiful community called the “Jewel by the Sea. All it would take is a deletion of a word on a PC. Oh, if every social problem could be solved so easily.
But the La Jolla Parade Foundation folks want no part of promoting such goodwill and harmony. I mean the San Diego Human Relations Commission offered to provide mediation for all concerned and they said “No” to that without batting an eye.
That’s when I started to really pay attention because I value this commission. I know that each member, to the person, is dedicated to their mission of fostering mutual respect and understanding and promoting amicable relations among all members of the San Diego community. They’re in existence for the very purpose of helping us love each other. Shunning their help says to me that the people responsible for the La Jolla Christmas Parade really don’t want to make positive contributions to a city that more and more is becoming people and neighborhood oriented, more and more respectful of its diversity. They, instead, seem to have chosen to go against the grain of making our city better unashamedly, feet planted in opposition to notions of love.
That’s so sad. So disappointing. So counter to the work that’s been done for decades in San Diego around human relations issues – the work that began when my friend Carrol Waymon came to town in 1964 to run the City of San Diego’s first human relations agency, the CIC (Citizens Interracial Committee).
It was mostly about race then and I remember taking part in dialogues where people of all races, colors, and creeds sat down with city and governmental officials to bring a sense of urgency to the problems of race relations in the San Diego area and La Jolla very much included.
Because a number of people loved their city enough to want to change it, good things started happening. Soon covenants about who could and couldn’t live in certain areas of town were removed and La Jolla sure had its share of these hateful agreements – but no longer. That’s the beauty of people gathering together to show that they care. They can bring an end to uncivil practices.
More jobs opened up for people of color. We could eat in the major restaurants, try on clothes in department stores. Schools became integrated. The police practices in minority communities began being addressed.
A number of “firsts” appeared on the scene, first black school board member, first black city councilman, first Latino California Assemblyman – all rising from the dialogues, from people working to make our city responsive to all its citizens.
Now, the environment in which people worked on the city’s social problems wasn’t necessarily like a genteel tea party. It wasn’t all peaches and cream by any means. I recall some very spirited postering, to be polite, in the police department conversations, particularly. All the issues were addressed with deep passions. But these breakthroughs in our city’s history came about as a result of diverse groups of people working together in a spirit of love. Love is the glue for all great social work. The great movements of our times around equality and free speech and women rising and gays marrying et al were all inspired by the love in people’s natures.
And it would sure seem to me that when it comes to an event that’s held during the Christmas season there would be an element of love somewhere in the mix. However what we’ve got going in La Jolla seems to be based on some kind of angry “Christ is the Reason for the Season” stance. But wouldn’t making the La Jolla Parade (hmmm, that has a nice sound) friendly and inviting to everyone be a nice Christian thing to do? A loving act?
Well, alas, I can only hope the parade organizers begin to show the good side of their humanity and gift us with a vision of them coming around to appreciating and honoring our city’s diversity.
All it would take is a mere gesture (changing a word), a smile (to those whom they’ve made the gesture), a gentle meeting of the eyes (as the recipients of such kindness smile back), a willingness to listen with an open heart (to the next opportunity to make great social changes).
Love would win the day.