Shaping Values in the Public Marketplace

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

I just attended a Diversity Breakfast marking the life, work and values of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a well-attended event in the Columbia, Missouri community.

As I took in the entire event I asked myself how it is that communities make statements about what is important to them. The answer to that question derives from a repeating pattern. I saw it again this morning.

People agree to gather in one place. They generally identify who they are or what sub-group of the greater whole they represent. This is done with name tags or group table markers. The community eats together, physical and symbolic nurturing of the aggregate.

Symbols and symbolic actions ritualize shared beliefs and loyalty: presentation of the colors, singing the national anthem, saying a prayer that recognizes the transcendent value of it all.

Awards are presented that reinforce the values the group agrees are worth emulating.

Artistic and cultural beauty is shared, a way to join the gathering together around a non-rational common experience.

Someone is engaged to present a speech, oratory which restates the values the community shares and hopefully inspires them to strengthen resolve to pursue them with more effort and commitment.

The event is repeating, which reinforces its importance; not only once, but regularly.

Wait a minute! Am I describing a community event or public worship? Or, because humans are involved and gather the tribe in similar ways, it’s both?

  1. Lee says:

    Yes, both are sustained by these patterns, but neither is limited in scope by them. Rather, they provide the nurturing that allows expansion and extension of those shared values and commitments.

  2. Mickey says:

    The awards & entertainment at the Diversity Breakfast were important and good, but the real value is in the fellowship. I sat at a table of all-white people from a political organization. But for my table-hopping, I could have missed many people for whom the breakfast was a financial stretch. It could have been a local church breakfast.
    Monday I had breakfast at the Almeta Creighton Memorial Po Folks breakfast at St Luke UMC where I sat with Diversity Award winner Julie Middleton & husband Mike from the chancellor’s office at Mizzou; Betty Dudley, minister at All Peoples International Ministry; Dwayne Edwards, city employee and small business owner; sisters Betty Williams and Martha Mitchell, part of Dr C W Dawson’s ministry community; and a man named James who teaches GED at Douglas school. I visted with Rev Ray Warren and Rev Raymond Hayes.
    We need more opportunities to hear each other’s stories. The Po Folks Breakfast was one for me.

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