It’s very easy for us to get caught up in all of the bad and I don’t know exactly why, but I guess I’ll chalk it up to human nature and the worry that goes with being human. There is so much bad all around us that sometimes it’s hard to think about anything good. With all the tension in Detroit right now, I think it’s important to recognize all of the good being done here. I’m not talking about jobs being created or not being created, expensive cool apartments, a street car that’s perfect if you have somewhere very close to be not on time, or any of that. I’m talking about people who help and people who are being helped. I’m talking about all of the human service organizations that exist within our giant tiny city. I’m talking about the big love you feel and see when you walk through the halls of some of the city’s nonprofits and service organizations.
I know we have to talk about the big, bad and amazing things happening in the world and in our own worlds in order to be productive citizens and in order to evoke change, but I don’t think that’s the only thing we need to talk about. I think we could all stand to take a break and talk less about the garbage that is all consuming. Maybe we could shift our focus to the men, women and children who provide or take part in human services each and every day. Maybe we’d become even more productive if we added that to our daily thoughts.
It seems as if most of us inhale, exhale, and huff and puff politics. I challenge you to think about the things and people you care about. Find a cause from those thoughts that you find worthy, interesting, or even something to put on a resume if that’s where you’re at in your life (I know how it is).
I’m not necessarily talking about giving money, because that’s only one way to give. If that’s the way you choose to give, that’s wonderful. You can also give time, services, experience, products, leftovers, excitement and so much more. That’s the fun thing about this fast, terrifying ride. We’ve got a whole lot to give.
The people that I have met in the city of Detroit are some of the most interesting, exciting, driven, caring, honest and open people I have ever come across. Maybe I am extremely biased, since I think it’s the greatest city in the entire world, but either way, I feel it strongly. I feel it strongly when I talk to the men at Mariners Inn about their recovery and their inspiration to make positive change, when I spend time at the Detroit Public Library making horror short films with teens, when I get to learn from the creative young women at Alternatives for Girls, when I get to experience the history of Clark Park in a conversation over the noise of kids scurrying around with their ice skates, when I get to see students inspired at school by the exciting work being done at Communities In Schools, when I experience the jokes and laughs at the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Center, and when I seek out the good news of local businesses helping one another and their neighborhoods. You can’t make this stuff up. Detroit can have both the charm of a small neighborhood and the power of a huge city a million times a day.
Maybe Amazon will pop up here soon, maybe big business will swallow downtown whole, maybe the city will revive in a way that benefits those who have been here forever; we never know what’s going to happen. What we can guess though, is how amazing a community organization must be to operate for decades in an ever changing city. To keep up with an unpredictable beast like Detroit and to continue to provide services when you don’t know what tomorrow brings is truly something. The people who hang in there to fight addiction, fight adversity, continue to learn, continue to give back, find life in music and words, and show us all that every day is a chance to be better are the people that make up this place. The people who show their teeth when they smile, count their blessings, stand up for what they love, and mess up and fix it and mess up again but never stop trying are the people that make up the place that I know and love. Those are the people that I want to be more like.
We can all use a break. Some of us aren’t as lucky as others to get one. Even though there are so many things that divide us, scare us, and infuriate us, we’re all people, and we all feel those emotions. The next time you get wrapped up in a storm cloud of emotions because of how wild life can be, look at the good happening in the corners of the city, but know that we’ve got so much more to do. Look at the people who are getting better, learning everything they can, making movies, building ideas, filling pages with poetry, cracking jokes, and lifting other people up. Think about the people who don’t have much but give all they’ve got. Think about the people who are simply happy to be alive. There’s a ton of good around us, too. And we can think about that and act about that. Share what you have, whatever that may be, whenever you feel that you can. There’s a ton of good to be made.
~Erica N Rakowicz