A bridge across the divide

With the National Week of Conversation behind us, we wanted everyone who has been following us on this journey to get a full summary of the impact of this event. For those of you who attended an event. we applaud that you took action and were a part of the change that we here at Common Ground support.  For those of you who could not or simply did not participate, we implore you to take the time and still try to start conversations within your local areas about communal, national and political matters and to bring light and not heat to public discourse.

If there was something we all learned through this and prior experience, it is that in our country,  grief is something both personal and visceral and no one, no matter how well-meaning can predict how long someone or a community will need to take to fully heal from a traumatic event such as that which occurred in Charlottesville last year.

Shawn M. Griffiths article from Independent Voter Coverage .com on the National Week of Conversation reflects the many positive experiences that happened during the recent conversations in Charlottesville. However, he also unpacked an unpopular and unspoken truth about the community’s and especially African American constituent’s uncomfortableness about opening the proverbial Pandora’s Box that was speaking about last August’s 2017 hate-filled protest.

Debilyn Molineux, Co-Director of Bridge Alliance, explained to Griffith her thoughts on this grief process and the current thought on healing in America:

“We move so immediately to taking action that people who are still traumatized can’t go with us,” Debilyn remarked.

“Somehow in this country, it has become unpopular to grieve, especially to grieve publicly. We are still in a period of grieving — a lot of us are. Not just about what happened on August 12 in Charlottesville, but what happened in past elections or what happened recently in Toronto. We have all of this trauma happening and we don’t really have a place to share and process it by pulling together. Instead of pulling us together, it ends up pulling us apart.”

When speaking to an audience member following the event, they asked if we felt we had all the answers since she, like many, felt too many people from the outside were invading their privacy in a well-meaning but albeit, misguided attempt to help. Outsiders could never truly understand the pain that their community has gone through and continues to process.  After a week of thought, we at Common Ground absolutely agree.

We do not have all the answers, nor do we think any one person or group will ever have all the answers.  Given this reality, we appreciate even more the overall positive feelings people spoke to us about after our event and the general uplifted mood everyone felt even if it was only for that afternoon. However, we need stones to build bridges to cross the divide and someone has to put the first stone down which being a part of the National week of Conversation in our mind was doing.