The Trail of Dreams World Peace Walkers participated in a Center for Spiritual Living Circle in Dothan, Alabama, yesterday. Dothan, Alabama is located in Southern Alabama, in the "Bible Belt" of the southern United States. This region has a dramatic history of violence and oppression against people of color which was brought to the attention of the American public during the Civil Rights era as the country and even the world was made aware during events such as the Rosa Parks Bus Act of Civil Disobedience, sit-ins and Freedom Rides; Montgomery Bus Boycott; the Selma to Montgomery Bridge Crossing superseded by the first attempt which came to be known as "Bloody Sunday"; and further north, the Birmingham Bombing of the African American 16th Street Baptist Church where four little girls were killed.
Some say little has changed since those days. However many of us who live here and who are working diligently to transform our communities would say that change not only has happened but is becoming more and more evident everyday.
One example is the gathering at the Center for Spiritual Living in Dothan, Alabama last night. The group was comprised of black and white, gay and straight, multigenerational, male and female. The discussions were lively as the group discussed the taking down of the confederate flag; marriage equality; racism; homophobia; privilege, power; and spirituality - particularly in regards to religion, holy books and the use of religious dogma to justify injustice and inequality.
This dynamic discussion was a perfect example of the Beloved Community operating in the here and now. Diverse people, with varying beliefs and spiritual practices creating a safe space for deep sharing with a commitment to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
As we continue to carry forth and expand this dialogue - change happens in our hearts and in our communities!
May Peace Prevail!
Audri Scott Williams
United Religions Initiative, URI Global Trustee (Multiregion)
Global Peace Advocate & Walker, Motivational Speaker, Author