On September 15, 2021, we were reminded that 58 years earlier there was the 1963 church bombing on 16th Street in Birmingham, AL. It happened. I had moved to Birmingham 14 years after the bombing (in 1977) and my son was born there. I recall the KKK meeting me in my little yellow MG Midget with their white hoods and robes on various street corners and at intersections. I remember I had not encountered such an experience during my young life. At that time, I had moved to Alabama from Indiana and was not as aware of cultural issues, and histories as I am now.
As I an an observer of serendipity and synchronicity throughout life, I paused last week to reflect on this particular walk through history. What did it mean, if anything, that I lived in Birmingham, AL only 14 years after those little girls were killed? Did I use my time in Birmingham wisely? Did I even care about the deaths of those little children during my years there? How far have I come through my own education about matters of social justice, cultural inclusion, and issues of religion, economics, rights, and society. Given the opportunity to work with the United Nations on the Human Rights Convention for Persons with Disabilities was one highlight of my career, and prompted me to be aware of so many deeper issues of inclusion.
As I am still reflecting from last week, I recall other historical places through which I have walked: the Via Dolorosa in the Old city of Jerusalem (the route through which Jesus carried the cross); the baths in Lourdes France in the foothills of the Pyrenees where I myself visited the sacred waters for healing; Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York through which so many persons have been welcomed to the USA; and Laramie, Wyoming where Matthew Shepard was beaten and left to die to name just a few.
We visit museums, and various geographical locations to learn about particular historical events. I think it is important to see the beauty of our worlds as well as the ugly reality of wars, riots, violences, and human actions in which people have participated.
I am grateful for walks through history so that I may learn and not repeat some of the past, as well as celebrate and look, with positivity, toward the future. What do you think? Look around you now, and be grateful for what you might learn from/near your location this day.