I address this to the Mayor of Gary, Indiana and the citizens of that fine city, who have so much to look forward to and work to achieve.

Recently on Chicago’s News Radio 780 WBBM their aired a series of articles regarding the problems the City of Gary is facing regarding revitalizing their communities and their infrastructure, due to racial challenges and stubborn officials and other problems. Well, consider this approach to solving your problems.

It is something Americans invented decades ago, it is Mission Control – now, not the literal way NASA designed and built the rooms in Florida and Texas to deal with missions in space, but the principles behind the concept. The people who designed, built, and tested those components of Mission Control did one important thing – they WORKED TOGETHER.

We did not go to the moon by bickering and touting the special needs of one ethnic group over another, as we do today. We did not build the Space Shuttle by being separate in our goals. We had to have the goal, and work with each other to build and service and test those vehicles for the missions that would launch people into space – that is, launch people off this planet and into the cold voids of space – we had to become a team.

The same challenges face the people of Gary. You have a city to revitalize, a transit system to work on and improve, and the opportunities that will arise from doing all of that. You can make room for new buildings, for high -speed rail systems, for new restaurants and housing units, for new residents and schools and stores. But you cannot do business as usual; you cannot hold to your own stubborn ideals and biases and interests.

Now is not the time to think yourself secure in that kind of isolation. Now is the time to think of teamwork, of achievement, of accomplishment, of cleaning up your streets, of thinking of the other person as you patiently sweep the floor, trim the trees, paint the playground equipment, and lay the bricks.

Now is the time to think deeply about the famous words President Kennedy said as NASA was in its early years and we were thinking of going to the moon. We have to concern ourselves with the essence of the idea of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely back to Earth… for all of us must work to put him there.

We have duties to each other, and we will feel better about ourselves once we wake up to the value of thinking in the Mission Control way. After all, we sent people into space and returned them safely to Earth. Yes we honored them for those fine missions.

But we can honor those who live and work by the very principles that made those missions successful, and we certainly need to honor them. The people of Gary, Indiana can work together and live peacefully together, and it is a fond wish and prayer that they learn to do exactly that.

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

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