I had dinner last night with some friends who had read some of my writings and thought that I should post them. I must admit to some trepidation in that I usually write about social or economic policy and cultural issues. I thought I would take a chance and do something different, something out of character, and something that might surprise people. Just consider what follows as a little detour. I will be back next week with more food for thought on the social, economic and cultural front.
I hope you enjoy reading this. It certainly was a pleasure to write.
We paint on this canvas of life. Stroke by stroke the picture unfolds before us and within us. At first, it is hard to tell what the picture will be. Unformed and without depth, we look for meaning in others. As our life develops, we learn that what we seek in others was always within us, yearning to be explored.
At times, we have to paint over mistakes, regrets and transgressions. We emerge from our soul-searching more whole; yet changed. We change the landscape of our lives; we heal. We notice the darker hues of what was and the pastels of what we are becoming.
Harsh, difficult and quick brush strokes; give way to strokes that are delicate, lighter, more refined and patient. We see things that were always there—but in new ways. We forgive ourselves, so that we can forgive others.
The ordinary is transforms from tedium, into the contentment andjoy of living in the moment.
Because of the pain and joy of what is, we begin again, understanding that no one completes us--we complete ourselves. We understand that true companionship and love are gifts to be cherished, respected and nurtured.
Like the painting of a great artist, we are no longer fearful of the unknown for we know that we have much more canvas to work with; we have much more to explore on this multicolored journey, where our experiences weave together into abstract textures within each of our souls.
The painting reveals the wonders of this energy called life.
For over 20 years, Gary Cunningham has served as the top leader of philanthropic, health care, public policy and educational organizations. Currently, Gary serves as vice president, chief program officer for the Northwest Area Foundation. He is responsible for carrying out the foundation's mission to support efforts by the people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity.
In effect, real educational reform to address the achievement gap, particularly in Minnesota, continues to be held hostage to vested interest, local nimbyism, and outmoded social ideologies, regardless of the political party in power. Everyone, regardless of his or her political persuasion, agrees that something fundamental needs to change if we are to change the trajectory of our current dilemma. However, not many are willing to step out of line with the party orthodoxy or their comfort zones to do what is necessary to make this so. In the meantime, another generation of our children are undereducated, underemployed and in poverty.
I was one of the lucky ones. Thousands of people, thousands of my fellow citizens, lost their lives on 9/11. Many families lost their loved ones. I will be forever indebted to the people Gander, Newfoundland, and I will forever be in sorrow for what we all lost on 9/11.
Josie Johnson's life experience, dedication to human, and civil rights helped change the social, economic, and political landscape for all of us. We all owe Josie a great debt of gratitude for all she has done to make our community a better place of justice, equality, and opportunity for all.
What many of us fail to realize is that we are all interconnected and interrelated. What happens in Minneapolis impacts what happens in Shakopee. We are part of an interconnected and interrelated system that includes roads, transit, housing, economic infrastructure, commerce, the environment and governance. If we choose to allocate public resources to fighting crime, then we can't support economic development or early childhood development. Unless we understand this interdependence and the need to invest in the whole community, we will continue to make inefficient and ineffective use of our limited resources. In other words, we all do better, when we all do better.