Several years ago, the late Rev. Glennwood Hemingway founded an outreach effort in the Harrells community, one that he envisioned would bring people of all races together to help their fellow man and, at the same time, enjoy one another’s company.
The root of Hemingway’s desire was showing unity through the diversity of a community’s people. Men and women, boys and girls of every skin color standing shoulder to shoulder, often hand-in-hand, sharing laughter and the common bond of love for Harrells and the county.
His dream eventually became what is now known as Unity in the Community, an annual event organized by volunteers in Harrells and the surrounding area.
There is much that can be learned from Hemingway’s dream, particularly in this tumultuous time we find ourselves living, a time when we are constantly told that the racial divide in our country has seemingly widened, an ironic twist considering the major strides that have been made over the last few years to close the disturbing gap that has for too long existed.
On face value, it’s easy to see those strides — pay gaps are closing, diversity in employment is growing, diversity in entertainment has expanded and the country, for nearly eight years now, has been led by a black president. If those aren’t signs of tremendous progress in bridging the racial divide, we cannot imagine what would be.
Yet tensions exist, most exacerbated by a national news media intent on focusing its attention on the worst situations rather than trying to temper them with the good ones that do exist. Couple that skewed light with a raging number of extremists groups trying to brainwash the common sense right out of us as a nation, and it’s easy to see where the seeds of divisiveness are allowed to grow.
It is up to us individually and collectively — and of all races — to push back against the railing groups in society who want us to believe that all police officers are bad, racist individuals intent on shooting and killing as many black people as they can find.
Saying all police officers are bad because a few very bad apples committed heinous acts is like saying that all teachers are sexual predators because some have been arrested and convicted of sex crimes with their students, or saying that all black people believe all whites are against them because a few Caucasian individuals have spewed poisonous remarks their way, or that black lives, white lives, Asian lives or some other race’s lives matter more than another. As we’ve said time and again — all lives matter, not because of their race but because they are human beings, our brothers and our sisters. Period!
Which brings us back to Glenwood Hemingway and his Unity in the Community. Hemingway came to The Sampson Independent when he wanted to begin the Unity event nearly a decade ago now. Speaking out of pure Christian love, Hemingway talked about his desire to keep his community, and the county, focused on the things that brought us all together, believing that fixing our eyes on those things would detract from those aspects that could divide us.
“It’s all about your priorities,” Hemingway noted during that first interview. “If you focus on the positive, then you are going to get positive energy back, and good things will happen. If we allow ourselves to focus on the negative, well then, you will see divisions begin to appear. I don’t want that to happen in Sampson County. There are too many good people here of all races. We get along. I want that to continue.”
From that dream, and with a commitment to focus on all the good things that people did in a community rather than the few negative things that happen, the Unity event was born.
If it seems simplistic, it’s because it really is. We just make things too hard, and we allow hatred to grow when it would be far better to find ways to love.
The only way to stop hate is to share love, and to bring about unity one has to reach out a hand and take another.
Hemingway understood that. It’s why we need more Glennwood Hemingway’s in our world today and a lot fewer extremists who would rather protest a negative than find a way to turn it into a unifying positive.