Aug. 20, 2007, was a day that will go down in my personal history book as a good day. I was able to witness a mountain moved, even if in a small way, with people that two years ago did not even know each other.
I moved into Rockford, in June 2005. My personal, professional, political and social contacts were virtually none. But Aug. 20, three of us from Rockford, from completely different socio-economic environments, crossed the taboo social clique and participated in a meeting to meet our congressman, Mr. Don Manzullo, and discuss the Campaign for a National Department of Peace and Non-Violence.
I have learned since moving here, the city is considered a war zone, the violence and the poverty is above national average, discrimination is alive and well, and intolerance for diversity is commonly accepted social behavior. These are the rumors, reports, and the statistical data that are easy to prove, and yet some want to live in denial that the problem is actually in their home or their street.
While speaking on behalf of the campaign, I was able to meet many different people from diverse backgrounds. To grow and learn with so many wonderful people has also been an honor.
Aug. 20, I recognized the feeling of disappointment as we discussed the campaign, and our congressman said he could not support the proposal to create a new federal department. While we heard the reasons why he would not sign on, I also heard something different: his general support for our underlying mission of peace. I hope someday to be able to speak more about how I learned to listen differently that allowed me to hear the hope and potential instead of the defeat and disappointment. For now, the ball is in our court, and I suggest we take this lesson and play ball.
Congressman Manzullo gave us an assignment; he requested we read a book called Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to Present. The author is Michael B. Oren. Many years ago, I learned that I have a communication challenge, and that was the first key to my understanding myself. I have taken various forms of communication classes for years, and I have learned that when someone opens a door and invites us in, we have a choice; we can walk away, walk in, or stand there and wait.
Aug. 20, the door was the request we made of him to read the bill, and he agreed. The request he made of us was to read the book. What you choose to do is up to you, but I personally plan on reading the book before the May 2008 Peace of the Pie event. Aug. 20, I saw a mountain move one inch. In the grand plan and purpose of this campaign, I am willing to celebrate this inch and hope you will, too.
Ruth Snyder is a Rockford resident and citizen advocate for the Campaign for a national Department of Peace and Non-Violence. She is also a consultant for autism issues.
from the Sept. 26 – Oct. 2, 2007, issue