We honor each of you today because just by your very presence you demonstrate a desire to be a visible voice for the least of these in our county. CoHO along with other organizations such as Deliver Hope, Bethlehem House and the Conway Ministry Center are about the work of serving and being present with the least of these. We seek to offer solutions to very difficult human circumstances. I can say without hesitation we want to have one voice that sings one song, “Faulkner County is a great county.” Yet our opportunity to act as a compassionate choir to sing this song with joy is obstructed because there are people without a safe and stable home. Even when a solution has been presented there are some who choose the status quo over a new a reality.
Since the City of Conway and her elected representatives do not perceive the necessity of addressing in a powerful and public way homelessness similar to Central Landing, Lewis Crossing, or the “need” for a waterpark, it becomes necessary for people of goodwill to act from the grassroots to create a new reality with a new song. We are proposing a new reality not simply in Conway but throughout Faulkner County in which people and organizations have the opportunity to address homelessness immediately in their area and above all, contribute to the human flourishing of men, women, and children.
Conway, as a growing city with its universities, increasing commercial shopping footprint, and other private industries bears the load when it comes to homeless services. In a county with four cities (Conway, Greenbrier, Mayflower, and Vilonia), the city of Conway holds the majority of homeless services to include emergency and transitional housing. This current reality can be transformed into a new situation in which each city and its citizens can have the opportunity to effectively and efficiently address homelessness. This transformation requires the involvement of private citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations, and elected officials. Our county has in place a framework to address homelessness on a voluntary basis providing an indelible reminder Faulkner County prioritizes the situation of the homeless.
The creation of a voluntary tax accomplishes three purposes, 1) provides citizens with a convenient approach to contribute financially to support the opening of new facilities to house the homeless, 2) creates an opportunity for organizations in Greenbrier, Mayflower, and Vilonia to open facilities, thus spreading the effort across Faulkner County, and 3) catalyzes a county wide effort to address homelessness.
Our diverse citizenry has the potential-in spite of political and religious differences-to accomplish a great opportunity for the sake of others in addition to the above mentioned endeavors. I wonder do you realize that among all of us we each have different songs yet if these were brought together would create a beautiful harmony?
Our citizens who place a high premium on faith possess common music to have a concern for their neighbor. My faith tradition of Christianity sings “I am to love my neighbor as myself,” a pronouncement shared by Jewish Faulkner County citizens as well. Citizens who maintain Buddhism hum, “One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself.” We have citizens who hold to Unitarianism who use a simply melody, “We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." We can observe from these faith traditions and numerous others the importance of demonstrating concern and happiness for another individual to the same degree one demonstrates for the self. Consequently, we want to take time to acknowledge those men and women who do not possess a transcendental perspective on life and yet understand the moral value in having concern for other persons. Seneca, a philosopher of 1st Century Rome stated, “Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors.” Humanist thought proposes, “individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings.” Therefore, we can observe in religious and non-religious traditions the common music human beings are best served in the demonstration of compassion for other human beings.
Additionally, we have citizens who will consider this idea and because of their political ideologies judge this proposal as an example of greater government involvement. My Libertarian neighbors please consider the heart of this proposal. As we affirm the wonderful dignity of the person and individuality to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, we cannot ignore the reality homelessness impacts our county. We solicit your support to raise awareness and on the basis of your libertarian principles observe this proposal offers citizens the free opportunity to demonstrate compassion to others. We want to propose to those men and women who represent Republican and/or Conservative ideals this proposal is in the best keeping of stimulating individual participation without government mandate. We have citizens who advance a Democratic platform which implicitly supports greater involvement of government to address human needs in our society. We would ask of these men and women to support this proposal because it includes participation of the Faulkner County Quorum Court with county nonprofits, provides an infrastructure to collect and distribute necessary funds, and addresses a human need in our county. Finally, we say to our neighbors who hold Socialist views, this proposal affirms the importance of a community caring for its own. This proposal acknowledges a community can support the individual dignity of a person freely.
Let me finish by saying. We cannot simply sing this new song under our own power. Love must function as the rhythm, the beat, and tempo of our new song. A new song of love which soothes the ear of the homeless and the housed to be men and women of purpose. A new song of love which moves the human body to stand in physical solidarity with people who are fighting daily to survive. Love must operate within all of us. Love which transforms the human heart and opens our mouths to sing, “I refuse to see another human being suffer in Faulkner County. I honor the beautiful dignity of the homeless so they can flourish as I do.” Let us sing a song of love which will not only transform the homeless and housed but our county as well.
Therefore, Faulkner County we have a grassroots opportunity to impact the lives of others in a very powerful way. So let’s sing! We can stand together with one voice and sing a new song to support the flourishing of human beings in the form of safe housing and eventual sustainable productive living. We the people have the resources, influence, and human compassion to act in such a way that with one voice and with one song, Central Arkansas and the Natural State will hear, “Faulkner County is a great county.”