HONORING OUR COMMUNITY by Ellen Donker
Finding our way forward
At Matters Magazine, we’ve always adhered to the purpose of sharing content that is upbeat and positive, running articles about our interesting neighbors and happenings. They’re the kind of stories that reinforce the wonderful community that we live in and give our readers a welcome diversion. When you publish seven issues a year, you don’t cover breaking news and that’s fine with us. We each have our niche.
Typically, this column is a heartfelt reflection on an aspect of my life that I hope readers can connect with – nothing too heavy – yet something meaningful, I hope. For this issue, I tried to write that column several times but it wouldn’t come together. Real life these past few months has weighed me down. I say that even as I sit in a fortunate position. I have lost no loved ones. My livelihood has not been threatened. I’m sheltering with a full house of healthy people. And I have never faced judgment because of my skin color.
Yet that is not the case for so many of our brothers and sisters. Our world is suffering.
I’m reminded of a passage in the Bible where it says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (I Corinthians 12:24) As people who share the same humanity, we are each affected by the other, for good or bad. Lately, the bad seems to be predominating. We have suffered these past months with the scourge of COVID-19. And just as we were seeing a positive trend, we were laid flat by the murder of members of our Black community. A disease of the body and now a disease of the heart.
We all have our ways of dealing with tragedy and injustice. We protest, we pray, we cry, we speak out. We confront our own beliefs, we uncover our prejudices, we write, think and read across a variety of voices. I think this helps us determine paths for using our own sphere of influence to promote change where everyone in our community is treated equally and with dignity, especially our Black members.
For Matters Magazine, we strive to represent the beautiful diversity of Maplewood and South Orange in our pages. The magazine should look like the people we see at school, in our Villages and in our neighborhoods, but we don’t always succeed. We need your help to do better and move beyond our comfortable networks to engage with new ones. Please: Introduce yourselves with an email, phone call or direct message on Facebook and Instagram. Acquaint us with your local friends and colleagues. Inform us about little-known stories whose telling would enrich us all.
Although we are living in a time of unrest and sorrow, we remain a resilient community with many reasons to hope. We look forward to sharing that hope by continuing to lift up members of our towns and celebrating one another. We count it an honor.