A person can become so habituated to a way of thinking or doing they neglect to consider there may be things other than their familiar ways to take into account. So it was with me last week when a Coffee House Conversations planning meeting came together with a group of volunteers, police officers and myself.
We proceeded with business as usual as we had become accustomed, as the months had rolled on and our community alliances took hold. Intent on continuing to develop our budding and reasonably successful conversations model, introduced in January, it hadn’t yet occurred to us that a bumpy road or two could surface as we headed for our destination; a more unified and enhanced community life.
But, oops, there it was; a bump in the road!
Nearing the conclusion of our meeting, gearing up for our next series of events, one of our volunteers happened to initiate an exchange with one of our police officers regarding a complaint he had been harboring for a time; a traffic flow situation he had repeatedly encountered with some resentment.
Nope, not so simple! Even in our program planning meeting of well-intentioned people who had taken time out of busy schedules to give their best to anticipated dialogue by way of developing a more “exceptional” community in our locale.
An analysis of what occurred in that brief exchange with far-reaching implications would take a great deal of time – and – thought, on my part, to even begin articulating for your reading pleasure and edification. Suffice it to say that what I learned most from the initial interactions as well as what followed is that, just as in our Coffee House Conversations by Conference Call forum, debate can be but a hair’s breath away when sensitive issues and topics are called up for discussion.
Sustainable dialogue is not so easy!
What I’ve realized since is that even seemingly simple and direct exchanges between citizens and police officers can readily get a bit testy, even in the most affirming of situations. Thus, it stands to reason, that as New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations begins to make ready for its next series of programs, we need to do a bit more investigating in the mode of Anastasia The Super Sleuth. And, take a good hard look at this next leg of the adventure before proceeding, if community unity is our goal – and – trusting relationships with our police our agenda.
Trusting community-police relationships is a objective that will require increased sensitivity, skills, participation, cooperation, commitment – and – determination. While frameworks that legislate “what to do and what not to do” in this domain might be well thought out, changing hearts – and a culture – are not so directly orchestrated. This is the difficult work of individual people, one-on-one and in small groups, on an everyday basis.
So as we embark on this next phase of our project we will need to be increasingly aware that
we are at a tipping point in our society where the rubber is meeting the road of what our humanity means to us. In this day and age, this is a tall order; this coming together, calling for caring and compassion for each and every one of us; something we don’t know how to implement so easily, or well. We often are unable to even accomplish this end in our most important relationships on a day-by-day basis.
Please stay tuned to what will be unfolding here as New Horizons prepares itself for our next Coffee House Conversations offerings. Our adventure is becoming increasingly challenging and complex as we intently strive for our best “Possible Human, Possible Society.”
The Lesson: We must not put the cart before the horse, especially in this instance; community-police relationships.
Careful considerations and best possible practical applications must rule.
Oh, my. Oh, my!