On May 27th, I posted a letter on my place-based Facebook page, We're ALL Lynn. My letter was also posted at LynnHappens.com, the great online Lynn community news site curated by Seth Album. My immediate and passionate response was fueled by the depth of my commitment to my city. I am excited about, and worry, about what'll come of the multifaceted initiatives to "improve" Lynn, which suffers from economic and race issues. My hope is that innovators and leaders have the whole in mind. I share my letter below.
It's about Lynn, but it could be about any community. It's about our emotions; it's about the need to be curiosity (and kind); it's about coming up with creative solutions to problems (and asking questions); it's about a plea for collaboration (which is the most creative and holy of acts); and it's about how we make meaning of each part and the whole. It's about how we, as spiritual leaders, might take timely time and share our voice towards the greater good. Please let me know your thoughts. I am open to learning what I do not know and thinking divignly.
You don’t know me but some of you do. I’m around town, usually at Brothers Deli or cheering soccer games on the common. I’ve been around Lynn longer than my childhood home. Thus, Lynn is my homeland. I care about where I live and have dedicated myself and my actions to contributing to it’s well being.
I write as a plea for the people of Lynn to resist any trend toward hateful speech. The experience of being a community can never be a zero-sum game of winners and losers. It just doesn’t work that way. The greatest civilizations of all were those that came up with innovative solutions to enormous challenges. We marvel at them and are inspired and learn from them. How is our living becoming wisdom for the next generation? How have we alchemized abundance from scarcity? What is the story of discovering the talents in our diversity?
As an artist and a minister, I believe the more we can inspire each other to use our sincere curiosity and creativity to view ourselves as community, the more the living in this community will feel good. Community-based thinking and living is a critical facet to harmony. The more people are doing it, the more we create a worthy history of living together in a particular time and place.
It’s easy to make fun of, complain and blame a group of people. We humans often first put down what we may not understand (because we have not had the same experience). It’s a common way we try to prevent ourselves from falling apart over the fact that we have no control in this world. We want personal progress but won’t support another if it is different. We want new business without allowing in new ideas. We want to be cool but guard institutional tradition. All I know from sitting with people in their pain, and my own, that diagnosis is always the same — something prevents us from seeing the humanity and worth and possibility right in our midst. “It was there all along,” we will be reminded. I tell you, says I — a professional story teller to the children — all great wisdom stories are the same. Our existence, no matter what we believe in, is about re-enacting a search for the truth. It’s never the war, struggle or deficit in itself that becomes the holy. It’s the surprising innocence and value and hope that makes us listen. In the end, we learn time and time again, more often than not, we can get through adversity when we discover something inside ourselves that leads to peace for more than ourselves. Our struggles are hard. We’ve all had some. And some of us quantumly worse than another.
If you disagree, then I will ask you to teach me your stories, your wisdom tales. I will listen. There’s just one thing.
I have a personal rule that I assume you could agree to — we listen to each other’s truth and ask questions and respect each other and who we talk about. It may be true that I am naive. Actually I am more afraid than naive. I can barely get used to the suffering that has surrounded me my whole life. The sadness. Here and then. Yesterday and tomorrow. I took vows to do no harm. And while I may not do enough, I will not make fun of or hurt anyone because I think they are less worthy than I. I don’t think anyone is less worthy than I am. Less lucky, yes. I try to give up unearned privilege or use what I should.
I am sensitive (like my dad) and sometimes a badass (like my mom). With both these qualities, I continue to bear witness to the process of being community, together. I’m not doing it to have more friends. I’m not doing it to save anyone. I’m doing it because I believe that is what my faith and all faiths require of me.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to get along better. Will you join me? How do you it? What is your most inspiring idea? How will you speak up and out with your lofty vision of everyone in Lynn getting along?
~Rev. Anne Principe,
curator of “We’re ALL Lynn”