Toward a Better Public

Like you I am concerned about what is going on in America’s cities. The animosity and violence with respect to the law enforcement organizations and racial/at make communities is that the boiling point. Whatever happened to happy, healthy neighborhoods?

Parker Palmer is a Quaker who wrote an excellent little volume, The Company of Strangers: Christians and the Renewal of America’s Public Life. In the book he defines “public” in the following way: 

At bottom, the word “public” means all of the people in a society, without distinction or qualification.  A public school is a place from which no child is barred, a place where the common culture of a people can be passed along from one generation to the next.  A person in public life is one whose career involves accountability to the people as a whole, who carries a public trust.  Even the weaker phrase, a public figure, means a person whose life is visible to all who care to watch it.  When information appears in the public press it is available to everyone; a public library collects and stores such information so it will be available to persons yet unborn.  And the word is used in similar but less grandiose ways, as in the English word “pub” or public house which is a gathering place for the whole community.

This is my dream – a neighborhood like the one I grew up in!