“WHAT ABOUT FAITH-based communities—where are they in your plan?” is a question we have gotten when we describe our ACEs prevention initiative in New Mexico called 100% Community. And, it’s one we are pleased to answer. We are often asked what role religious organizations have in our work. It is estimated that there are approximately 350,000 religious congregations in the United States, representing a wide range of beliefs. With approximately 350,000,000 people in the country, that’s about one place of worship per 1000 people. Imagine: If each of these spiritual centers partnered with local government leaders and socially-engaged businesspeople, we would end childhood trauma and health disparities within a year. Seriously.
For this reason, we have faith in the goodness of people. How we get our community to 100%, ensuring vital services for all residents, requires the belief that it’s possible. This faith, coupled with courage, creativity, compassion for others and ourselves, is how we achieve our most noble goals.
Essentially, with 100% Community, we are asking this nation of 350+ million to acknowledge the profound trauma in their lives and those of their loved ones. This is painful stuff. We would be foolish to ignore how hard it is for folks to make sense of it all and come to terms with our addictions to almost anything that can provide short-term relief from our feelings of emotional pain: binge watching, binge eating, drinking, smoking, snorting, hookin’ up, pill popping and shopping for nothing.
With our country’s culture of state-sanctioned/anointed alcohol consumption and consumerism, many can, and will, live in state of self-medication and denial. Our mobiles have become ATMs for self-pleasure with the click of a tiny keyboard. But, how long until it all comes crashing down around us? How high do the percentages need to rise as our kids fail at school due to trauma, teens consider suicide, or parents misuse their prescription drugs as often as they brush their teeth?
As we wrote at the beginning of our book 100% Community, we already have high school students asking not only, “Do the adults know what’s happening to us?” but, “Why aren’t they doing anything to help?”
What we ask of ourselves and you
We are asking people, especially our leaders, to connect the dots among almost every costly social ill haunting every neighborhood in the nation—from guarded mansions to urban condos, suburban estates and housing projects. It’s time we commit to a path out of this dysfunctional status quo that leaves so many behind.
Our job isn’t easy, but it is absolutely necessary. And, to end on one very positive note, the work we propose, and are engaged in as we write this, is tremendously rewarding. And, we would like to think, inevitable. There are just too many like-minded caring people across every community on the planet—connected by technology—who are launching solutions to almost every challenge you can imagine.
Notes on cautious optimism
We, and quite possibly you, dear reader, have been at this work for decades, asking communities, through our talks, trainings, podcasts, websites and strategic plans, to create in each county the ten vital family services that have been shown to promote healing and reduce the hurting of others and oneself. And, we have seen successes on countywide scales. (See our attached six month report.) We know a countdown to ensuring trauma-free futures for 100% of our children is possible because we have already started the clock.
We have faith in the future.