My son asked me last Fall if the “Fill-in-the-Blank” Movements are seasonal, because they seem to disappear in the Winter.
It certainly caught me by surprise and inconveniently disrupted my focus at the time, to devote attention to his bigger point. Where does all the energy toward a particular “cause” go after brief moments of collective community synergy?
In reflection of the times, where we as a community displayed our most embarrassing ugliness toward one another, I must accept the reality that nothing was ever solved.
It makes a person wonder if the issues were like a burning inferno that was never really extinguished but allowed to smolder, so just the slightest of contact could build the flame back up again. Or perhaps it was extinguished and simply waited for something to provide the spark necessary to reignite the fire.
Most dangerous is the idea that the issues keeping communities apart are no weaker, lighter, or resolved than they were last Summer. They are not gone, they have simply gone into hibernation.
But Spring is almost here in Milwaukee. Like a 600 lb. grizzly bear awakening from a long Winter slumber, the time is now for everyone, and everything, to come alive. As the weather gets warmer, so too does the opportunity to gather in the community.
On nature trails, we are warned that bears are more active after hibernation and more protective of their young. With information, education, and experience, we are able to avoid them with little fear of encounter or incident. As my son poignantly points out, whatever caused us to engage in hate, violence, rioting, and civil disobedience will also be back in the forefront.
The root cause of such social ills were never solved, even though a lot of work was clearly invested in a plan.
Reggie Moore, of the Health Department Office of Violence Prevention, is a person I have the upmost respect for in this regard. He has been painstakingly knocking on doors, hosting meetings, speaking with elected official from local and national levels, and attending any gathering he can get in order to share and put into action the Blueprint for Peace.
I imagine him moving about the community with the same determination as a Park Ranger, driven to keep us all safe. His efforts contribute to the notion that our communities should be experienced and enjoyed by all.
Kids in Milwaukee are the best at pointing out the hypocrisy in the behavior of adults, if we took the time to listen. We tell them to see a problem through until it is resolved. We bark orders at them, to plan and prepare for their future. We instruct them to learn, to anticipate challenges, and respond to them accordingly. Most importantly, we demand that these little people be consistent.
Meanwhile, the adults they are forced to listen to debates about patriotism for the 18 weeks of an NFL season, we only march during ‘good weather’ or when it is convenient to be seen as a champion for a cause. Milwaukee adults respond to the energy of any “movement of the moment” so long as celebrities are leading it.
Those of us who want our communities to come together, we appear to lack the stamina of those that choose to keep us apart.
I look forward to the Spring and the awakening of everyone and everything that used Winter as an opportunity to slow down, recharge, and regroup. I am cautiously optimistic that as we understand the dynamics of how community relations coincide with the change in weather, we will not continue the cycle and wonder why no progress is made.
The hibernation period is rapidly coming to an end. It is time now to stop reading the map and start preparing for the terrain.