Bottle Cap Art
In the vestibule of the Mayflower Community Church is a large mosaic fashioned from plastic bottle caps. Orange ones and red ones. Blue ones and green ones. White ones and black ones. They were collected from hundreds of containers of cleaning supplies and condiments; soda pop bottles and peanut butter jars. They’re organized in a pattern of cresting waves.
The swirls of joy are a reminder that colors can complement one another. That something small can be grouped together with other small things to make a huge impact. That within walls of beauty and intrigue we can find common ground.
I was at Mayflower for the annual interfaith Thanksgiving Service. The event was a colorful sea of people — a cresting of different faiths and spiritual traditions. We came together to give thanks and pray for peace. Our amber waves of hope for acceptance not yet dimmed by human tears.
Bigotry is such a blinding force in our world.
Oklahoma Center for Community Justice
The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice fights bias and bigotry in our state. With original ties to the now defunct National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Tulsa-based organization has expanded its reach to Oklahoma City. Russ Florence of Schnake Turbo Frank, a PR and management consulting firm is the incoming chair and a new executive director will be announced soon.
OCCJ’s primary focus is creating common ground among diverse groups of people. They strive to promote respect and understanding among all races, religions and cultures. Their cornerstone project is Camp Anytown, which has been going on for 20 years.
Every summer, Oklahoma teenagers gather in Vian to learn about leadership and social justice. The hallmark of the camp is diversity and the teens selected to participate don’t leave until they’ve confronted their own assumptions and hate. It’s been called a life-changing experience.
And, still change doesn’t come easy. We want to teach our children that little song, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands. We want to believe it, but how can we? Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White. We all keep hurting each other into the night — from continent to cul de sac and everywhere in between.
And, we don’t just hurt each other with guns and bombs. We hurt each other, our community, when we tolerate even the most passing of conversations that denigrate one group over another.
Based on the 2010 Census, racial and religious composition in Oklahoma is more diverse than ever. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians make up nearly 40 percent of the population in Oklahoma City. Many more groups come together to form a growing mosaic statewide. Within all these different colored pieces exists a beautiful world. It’s possible to find common ground when living in peace and harmony is your goal. The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice can help lead us there.