Dee Ellison: A community of ‘we’
By Debra Ellison
Special to the Salisbury Post
When you opened the pages of the newspaper or read posts from social media on the tragic killing of 7-year-old A’Yanna Allen, did you read it and file it in your memories — or did you pause a moment in disbelief that yet another life will not live to bloom, to become everything that perhaps she dreamed of or others dreamed for her?
My thoughts and prayers go out to this family as well as my prayers for others who have been impacted because of the violence we are experiencing.
Did you connect the dots to only recollect that times have changed in our city and in our county when there is such an enormity of loss within our community? Did you shed a tear as I did when I read of her death? Did you decide that the solutions we ponder upon will magically stop what is going on in our city? Did you think this only happens in this area of town or city and so I am not so greatly impacted by it?
Salisbury used to be called the “Sleepy City,” and I believe that we all know that this is not the case anymore.
I’ve read many stories about crime and many suggestions on what needs to be done, but in the meantime the reality is that while we read about it and think about it, there does not seem to be an urgency to correct the roots of the problems from some perspectives.
From a myriad of immediate ideas and suggestions for solutions involving no knock warrants, violence, gangs, guns, relationships, diversity, resources, epidemic drug abuse and selling drugs, it seems that there is enough to talk about that could keep us talking for the next several years.
One thing is clear in my mind, and that is that there must be action to appropriately address the prevalent issues of today. We don’t have years and years to address and fix these problems.
I once heard that it is hard to imagine or describe the life of an alcoholic, drug user or criminal, unless you’ve lived that experience. I’ll add that for some it is hard to imagine what it is like to be poor, to live without proper medical care, to need help and no one steps up, to want a job and be turned away at every turn because you don’t have enough, to be elderly and no one seems to care and the list continues.
I do believe that there are more than two sides to every story. For that reason we must open our mind to different perspectives and different voices on the problems at hand. We cannot throw quick solutions to problems as there tends to be a trickle-down effect when we do.
This year in a “Conversation from the Porch” forum, law enforcement commented on their dismay that instead of treating addictions, the answer too often is incarceration. It is important that we ask the right questions to gain understanding of the many proposals that are on the table or coming to the table.
I understand what it is like to lose someone to violence and to want to look out for the community that is living in fear. I noticed in the article regarding one of the shootings that many in the neighborhood were afraid to even look outside because of fear; fear is powerful and hampers many times getting to the truth.
Our community is very diverse with diverse perspectives and diverse needs from children to seniors, and I take it personally, for every life matters.
We can’t tie the hands of those who are sworn to protect us, or give power to those who represent us in one capacity and expect them to move into new roles when they may not be equipped to do so.
There is value in being accountable for our responsibilities, and my hat is off to those of you who serve in various capacities in our communities and also believe in the importance of accountability.
This is not a one-size-fits-all problem. It is a community opportunity to join together to make a change and stand together to develop solutions that work no matter who you are, where you come from, where you live, where you work, where you go to school, where you worship, who you know, your age or your preferences.
We are not a community of “I” — rather, a community of “we.”
By the way, I thought that the March for Love was amazing, and I look forward to more opportunities to connect on various levels with others who believe that love is better than hate. Change is difficult, but what we put into it can lead to positive results.
I hope that we will look deeply at ourselves and be able to reflect positively on our “Did I’s?” of life’s opportunities.
Debra Ellison is the chair of Project Cover (Conversations from the Porch) and a local pastor and trainer.