My brothers and sisters, in order to heed the call to fix our broken community, we need to differentiate between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to us! Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.”
We recognize that electoral politics is how we select our city officials and we celebrate our American civil liberties that make that democratic process possible, but after we select our officials, we need to remind them that WE run our neighborhoods! We need to look our elected officials in the eye and say in today’s language, “We run this!” Where our neighborhoods have been marginalized by an economics of scarcity, we need to replace it with a hopeful economics of abundance! For those members of our community struggling to live in our most impoverished neighborhoods, we must stand together and declare “Jubilee” in their lives! We need a community-based philanthropic strategy for the bucket boy, the homeless vet and the wheelchair guy at the expressway exit! We need community-based economic recovery programs for households dogged by predatory lenders and we need community-based lenders who have a vested stake in the economic viability of the neighborhoods where they do business! We need to identify businesses that will let our homeless and unemployed “glean the fields” for their sustenance and for the public good. There are a number of public works projects that our homeless and unemployed citizens could do that could be funded privately by neighborhood businesses in a public/private partnership for the public good.
Turn to your neighbor and say “We Run This!”
We need a robust, integrated vision of our neighborhoods, of our housing, our places of commerce, our schools and our houses of worship. If schools in our neighborhoods that we pay for with our tax dollars are sub-par, then we must hold our elected officials accountable, but at the same time, we must come beside our failing schools, classroom by classroom, and conduct after-school programs and summer enrichment programs until our children can compete with any student anywhere in the world because they don’t get a do-over!
Turn to your other neighbor and say “We Run This!”
We need to get so skilled at social entrepreneurship that universities write textbooks on what we’ve done! That slogan from the sustainability movement needs to become axiomatic in our community: “Reduce, Re-use and Re-cycle,” and when something or someone no longer serves its original purpose, we will re-purpose it to meet new needs and new demands. We need to re-purpose gang-bangers; we need to re-purpose low-skill workers! Not only that, we need to re-purpose what it means to be a small-business owner in our neighborhoods. We need to re-purpose what it means to be an able bodied retiree (to the outside world you may be retired, but you can be re-purposed into an amazing mentor, teaching your job skills to an ex-con trying to re-enter the job market!)
And when we have ignited this holy and hopeful spark of light by dedicating one day, Easter Day, as a day with NO murders in our great and lovely city, then perhaps—just perhaps—one day can extend to two, and two to one week and more. Then perhaps we can begin a most glorious re-cycling program! We can buy back some of the enormous supply of guns we have in the homes of our city, melt down the metal and build swing sets and monkey bars! We can beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks, we can study war no more and learn to live in peace one with another, neighbor to neighbor, sister to sister and brother to brother! Amen.