June 23rd, 2016
Reaching Out in Love – Our Count Me In Rally
I Choose Dignity’s Count Me In Rally Makes My Heart Sing
I am sitting at my computer, just thinking about Thursday’s event. I am filled with much love for my community – my community of coworkers, my community within the developmental sector, my community here in Kitchener, my community in Waterloo Region, and my community here in the wide world of life! We truly are better together.
So many people came together to share their passion, purpose and power. They came together to declare that they choose dignity. And together they will change the world. Love always does.
We have had a week of truly horrific losses of life.
But instead of staying there, in the terror and grief, we celebrated diversity. We learned one another’s story. We reach out in love instead of hate. We reminded one another that we all matter. We reminded one another that we are part of an ever-expanding ‘we’. There is no they, nor other. Simply we.
Our speakers have touched my heart. To its very core. We had Zainab Ramahi encourage us to take our passion and transform it into action. I smile at the thought of this, because this has been her life’s work, it would seem to me. She lives out this encouragement and our wonderful Region is better for it. I simply have to recall the experience of sitting and watching the production of I Am Rohingya to know that she lives and breathes her values. A command performance is scheduled for later this month, check it out here
Then there was John Neufeld, who shared about the work of House of Friendship. His reminder that he doesn’t work with “the homeless”, but rather, with individuals who have names – who have stories, strengths and a spirit. These groupings, these ‘others’, have not been afforded dignity when stripped of these three ‘S’s. So when we hear of “the homeless” or “the 49 killed”, we don’t recognize the humanity of each person imprisoned in those labels. His simple call to action? Get to know another! Find out their story. Give them space in your mind to be a whole person.
There were numerous other speakers – Carol Blessing, Matt Martin, Peter Lawryniuk, and Niki Stevenson – as well as remarks from both Kitchener and Waterloo Mayors, MPPs Daiene Vernile and Catherine Fife, Regional Chair Ken Seiling, and local City Councilor Sarah Marsh. So much support and encouragement from many levels of local and provincial government. At a time when love and dignity are crucial, many people get behind I Choose Dignity’s message of #countmein.
I think my simple take away from the evening is that in choosing dignity, I am also choosing love. And that feels right.