Thursday, March 16, 2006

Coordination of Efforts--People Matter

Last Sunday I spoke to a really good church out in Southlake, Texas--to be more exact, the church is located in Trophy Club, Texas.

My assignment meant that I had to drive out Highway 114 to Southlake and back to downtown Dallas--almost 70 miles round-trip.

On my way back into the city, I had a surreal moment on the freeway.

Work with me here to "get the picture," okay?

Garrison Kellior is bringing his "Prairie Home Companion" program (a re-run taped in June 2004) to a close by leading his New Hampshire audience in singing "America the Beautiful."

I am flying down the highway along with some really amazing automobiles--Porsche SUVs, Mercedes Benz, BMWs, Lexus of various sorts, the list of high-priced cars could go on and on. Cars occupy the space in my soul labeled "Vice," so, I notice cars believe me!

To the right and to left I pass retail shopping of every variety, laid out in malls, new urban strip centers and impressive free standing buildings.

Upscale housing for lease and for sale appears plentiful, with more being built everywhere out on what was once prairie and cotton farms.

Shining office buildings dot the drive and become more concentrated as I glide through Los Colinas. The national headquarters of several companies make their corporate homes along this concrete ribbon of industry and wealth.

Then, the skyline of Dallas emerges out of the haze.

Really an impressive silhouette against the horizon.

All the while, Garrison is signing his heart out with his audience.

The message comes to me so clearly.

In a city like this one, there is no reason for any child to grow up in poverty.

No student should drop out.

No family should have to endure sub-standard living conditions.

Everyone should find work that pays a fair and livable wage--every single laborer.

No man, woman or child should need to worry about health care or food or transportation.

Hopes should never be crushed in such a wealthy place.

This city and this nation are indeed beautiful.

As I drove along, lost in thoughts about my work and the people I know as a result, it occurred to me that I love this place. I really love it.

But we should be doing better, much better.

And, you know what? We can do better.

But, things must change.

What is needed is a coordination of resources, efforts, heart and opportunity.

Public sector and private sector must come together with a new will to bring equity and fairness to our city--to every corner of our city.

Until every resident of our city understands and believes that he or she matters and matters a great deal to the rest of us--because of the way our community operates and treats all residents--we will not see the improvements we need so badly.

It is not popular these days to say so, but the government must step in and take charge of some issues and relationships.

We will not get the job done unless things are coordinated for the greatest good of the most people.

And yes, sometimes such decisions will be made at the expense of the few who also are the very well off.

America is beautiful. However, the beauty and the opportunity must be shared much more widely.

My drive last Sunday brought this home to me.

It also screamed, loud and clear, that we have more than sufficient resources to do what needs to be done.


KentF said...

Beautiful writing Larry. We just arrived back in southeast Texas from a recent family visit to McKinney. I too noted the ever-amazing assortment of high-end vehicles. But, I also seemed to notice a larger number of clunkers chugging up and down Central Expressway also - moreso than usual.

I can't imagine trying to re-assimilate our family in suburban Dallas. Seems those that missed out on the latest 75% run-up in home prices are that much further from a realistic shot at true homeownership. But, God does work in mysterious ways.

Charles Senteio said...

Hey Larry,
Don't be too harsh on the 'burbs. I live in Keller and don't make no excuses. I grew up in the ‘hood and still have no excuses. Those that matter know where my heart is. As the Blastmaster says, "I hang with the rich but I work for the poor."
I drive that highway at least 6 days per week to work/serve/live/play/give/take with those that I need... and that need me. Yes they matter and I matter to them, but before you illuminate the 'burbs too much don't discount the fact that one’s zip code never really demonstrated nuthin' or illuminated what was in one's heart. As Bob Marley so eloquently wrote and sang, "Preacher man don't tell me, heaven is over the Earth, I know you don't know, what life is really worth.... The mighty God is a living man." I am not a biblical scholar, I focus too much on knowledge of self I guess, but I do recall that focusing on our own definition and manifestation of faith, irrespective of zip code, is far more important. “Pops” didn’t care where U live, he cared that you treated him like a man. I AM A MAN! He cared that you treated him as if he mattered. He is us and we are him, zip code be damned.
Don't be too hard on the 'burbs, there are folks of all colors who are advocates, zip code is such a narrow way to qualify them. Yes this city is capable of more, just go North on 75 and hang a left on Mockingbird if you want to illuminate a ‘hood.
Much luv.

Paul said...

I don't believe that Garrison is a praying man but those final words sound like a prayer we all should be praying...and living out.

Larry James said...

Thanks,Charles. I think you misunderstood my point though. I wasn't trying to "bash" the burbs. I was simply making the point that the obvious affluence that exists in this city makes our poor mouthing arguments that "there just isn't enough money" to really address the problems that we face in poorer areas of the community sound really hollow, weak and disingenuous. A community with this kind of wealth needs leadership to channel resources so that people like "Pops" and kids like fill schools in Area 2 in Dallas have what they need to succeed, including health care, Advanced Placement classrooms, decent housing, etc. That will take new revenue that new leaders should make sure is forthcoming. My point was not to bash the wealth. It was to call attention to the manney in which leaders refuse to step forward with necessary courage and build out systems that will get the work done that is necessary. Charity alone can't get it done.

That's all I was saying, brother. Love you.

Charles Senteio said...

Thanks for the clarification Larry. I feel that. Charge it to my head, not my heart.

Larry James said...

No charge, brother! Neither your head nor your heart are in question over here! Just good conversation that I believe is taking both of us somewhere better! I love you, man!

Anonymous said...

Paul: I believe that those italicized lines are not a quote from Garrison, but a commentary from Larry of what he was thinking while hearing America the Beautiful as sung by Garrison.

On a totaly random note: why does it seem like the Prairie Home Companion is on the air every hour of the weekend on KERA? :)

Anonymous said...

Isaiah 61 came straight to mind when reading your blog today. I think God truly is calling many of us to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release prisioners from darkness- LIKE NEVER BEFORE!! God hates injustice and is calling us to fight against it with purpose. I am so encouraged by all that you and your partners in ministry are doing to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor in Dallas! I'd love, more than anything, to get involved with your ministry!

Anonymous said...


Beautiful post, and truly resonant. I've had similar experiences and the same feelings you've described. It once ocurred while driving the same route -- from DFW into Dallas, along 114 -- after an extended vacation. Driving into the city at twilight, I felt my heart catch in my throat as the skyline came into view. Too beautiful for words. And the sky... the sky felt big enough to swollow us whole. It was a moment of grace, unbidden and humbling.

And like you, "the eyes of my eyes were open" such that I saw through the buildings and onto the streets, really seeing the people, from the Porsches to the porches. So much want bumping up against so much wealth. Nonsensical. Have we come this far with all our prosperity, only to stay where we are, economically, spiritually?

Surely there are better ways -- coordination, cooperation, a change of heart -- and better days ahead. I've got to believe this, to believe there's work to be done and a power greater than all of us. Otherwise, why bother?

"A vision is something we reach for, something we aspire to, something that is the glue ... the driving force, the vitality within... When we are touched by a vision, our deepest values come into play and we have a sense of abiding purpose ...."-- Danah Zohar, in Leader to Leader, No. 38 Fall 2005 @