Feb  2018 05
Won't You Be My Neighbor: 2018 OCCJ Trialogue Series

Won’t you be my neighbor? That was the question the Rev. Fred Rogers (who was a Presbyterian minister) asked children, and their parents, on every show. In the theme song Fred wrote for the show, he said:

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

What beautiful words! However, it is evident in so many ways that many American’s don’t live them. In his book, The Big Sort, journalist Bill Bishop documents how Americans have not sorted themselves only by newsfeeds but also by where we live. When we choose, we are likely to choose neighbors who are like us in some salient way—race, ethnicity, income, political party. Who is my neighbor, and whom we choose to neighbor, may be among the most important issues of our era. We are much more likely to feel empathy for and treat someone with justice and compassion if we see them as somehow like us.
 
This year, Trialogue participants will explore the question of who our neighbors are, how we see and define neighborhoods, how we might enlarge our understandings of how to neighbor, and what we believe we owe to each other. How rich is the social fabric of your neighborhood, of Tulsa, of our state? What can each of us do to enrich the social fabric, to be the kind of neighbor with whom others want to live? The speakers and table activities will help us explore these issues.

Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend 
Phillips Theological Seminary President
2018 Trialogue Chair

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