Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Struggle for One World

In a column on September 6th in the Democrat and Chronicle reflecting on the deaths last week of Officer Daryl Pierson and developer Larry Glazer and his wife Jane, David Andreatta said,

Just two miles separate Larry Glazer's Midtown Tower from the trash-strewn street corner where Rochester Police Officer Daryl Pierson was gunned down..
It might as well be 2 million.
The neighborhoods are worlds apart, one brimming with hope, the other beset by hopelessness, with the space in between a purgatory of broken homes and broken lives.
Worlds apart.  I perfectly understand the metaphor and how it does seem to describe reality (and I do not think for a moment that Andreatta meant it as anything but a metaphor), but it also points to the problem at the heart of all our problems.

It seems like we live in different worlds, and many of us are invested in that assumption, but we do not.  We live in one world.

What do I mean by "many of us are invested in that assumption?"  I mean simply that there is a certain comfort level, particularly for those of us who live in Larry and Jane Glazer's "world," in believing that we are not part of the world of Hudson Avenue, where Officer Pierson was shot and killed.  For our sense of security and well-being, we are quite happy for there to be "2 million" miles between us.

Here is the reality, however.  There is not "2 million" miles between Hudson Ave. and Main St. in the City of Rochester, nor is there that kind of distance between any street in any town of this county or this state.  Nor is it helpful, even if you accept our actual closeness, to speak of Hudson Ave. as the center of hopelessness and Main or any other street, the center of hopefulness.  In my ten years as a parish priest in Rochester I have had the privilege of leading a community from every conceivable part of this county, including Hudson Ave. and Main St. in Pittsford, and the reality is there is hopelessness and hopefulness in each situation.

Until we find ways to break down the illusion of two worlds, of "others" who live in a world that we think is fundamentally different than ours, our problems will persist.  There is only one world, one struggle for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  We all have the responsibility of finding some way to bridge the divide, break down the illusion and participate in one another's well-being.

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