2020 0619 #PeaceMatters #MamaPeacePost

Shades of Life poem

After a months-long pause in work on the “I Am… a Mosaic of Mattie” documentary, I am ready to get back to moving this powerful project forthward — with continued purpose yet also consideration for the current needs of people, and for our world.

It was hard to put this endeavor on hold back in early March, but with our world coping with unknowns and fears and mounting losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary. The pandemic is far from “over” – but we are beginning to learn more about how to live with it, or around it, or perhaps even despite it – practicing personal and community hygiene and social distancing, and also preparing ourselves and our communities for the future, and for potential (even likely) ongoing medical, economic, social, technological, and other challenges.

Frustrating as it has been, in some way, having to take a step or few away from the project also gifted us with time to consider perspective, and to consider and reconsider the post-production nature of this film…

What began in 2015 as a small but informational and inspirational home-grown video about Mattie and peace grew in 2019 to a widely supported major film endeavor when a videographer came on Board. With each interview he conducted, more and more Mattie stories and peace messages and “I Am…” treasures were being shared, each expanding and amplifying the mosaic vision that Mattie offered us, and also the mosaic concept of this project. As we reflected on the ever-growing bits of mosaic pieces we were gathering, our storyboard conversations evolved from a single film production into thoughts of a mini-series, and/or a film with an ongoing #ContinueTheConversation & #MamaPeaceChat podcast series.

Now, in 2020, our world has changed… and our project is shifting as we, the people, are evolving… especially as we individually and collectively open our eyes and minds and hearts to needed changes in attitudes and realities that impact our local and global neighbors.

Change is difficult, but change is often necessary for growth and improvement and healing. And, change can be the gift of opportunity for each of us, and all of us, to survive, and better yet, thrive, in this good world.

Today, we are still moving through 2020, a year so very filled with tragic and triumphant truths that it will surely, one day, be textbook worthy… yes, the historic stuff that generations learn about, and hopefully, grow from. As such, we (the people), though it may be difficult, can embrace the fact that our world will likely never be quite the same post- 2020. Nor should we (or our world) be the same… ever, ever, ever again. We can be, and should be, better… we can be, and should be connecting and moving “forthward” with newly-realized or finally-understanding or ready-to-accept or excited-to-celebrate information and inspiration, and hope, and peace… and each other.

We have, at hand, heart-breaking and mind-opening and spirit-strengthening opportunities to learn lessons, and to count blessings, and to unify essence – as individuals and as communities of people. What a gift – to have reason, and realization, and hopefully the resilience – to shift and change our world… to gather each and every shattered or scattered or sacred bit of mosaic pieces, and tend to humanity as a collective story… a collective story that matters… a collective story that is filled with countless unique and personal and family and community and cultural stories, that date back to the earliest-of-times and that span forward into the ever-of-times… stories that have been told before but should be told again (and again and again)… stories that have yet to be told but are ready be told (again and again and again)… and stories that have been neglected to be told but are essential to be told (again, and again, and again, and again)….

Let us choose to be story-people – gatherers and curators, listeners and tellers, collectors and celebrators – of the things and the people that matter. Let us choose to share – with positive-yet-accurate words and attitudes, and with gentle-though-strong hearts and actions – stories (and stories and stories and stories) that remind us and re-educate us and rejuvenate us as a people – together.

Let us choose to carefully and creatively and collectively move forthward… second-by-second, step-by-step, story- by-story… beyond medical and social pandemics and injustices, and beyond fears and unknowns and hesitations and history… let us change the “how and where and when” of living and doing things — due to necessity… and, let us change the “how and why and who” of living and doing things — due to long-standing realities that need to be shifted and shamed and shuttered and re-shaped — with hope and peace, and equality and fairness, and justice and gentleness and more…

Let us choose to #MakePeaceTheNews… encouraging media to shift sensational reporting and finger-pointing at problems to a balanced representation and spotlight-focusing coverage of possibilities and positivity… making personal and network choices to shine a light on darkness in a way that sparks a torch of hope, without fueling a fire of rage… highlighting the peaceful aspect of protests and the need for change with an eye-and-word towards creative solutions and motivational problem-solving… making time and space on camera and webpages for worthy resources and events and activities and people and places that exemplify how we can move “forthward” with respect and a celebration of differences and purpose – for peace.

Let us choose to continue the momentum, long after the media shifts attention from these moments and opportunities at hand… encouraging folks to shift the #StayAtHome & COVID-19 Quarantine realities to #StartAtHome & Continue the Conversation realities… talking with children and leaders and family members and colleagues… reflecting and responding and reaching out around dinner tables and conference tables and world tables… increasing awareness and understanding and respect and positivity and connections and celebrations and more and more, so that we can #RebuildTheMosaic…

Let us choose to “be… just be…” as Mattie said, “Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting, like children and lambs… never judging, or vengeful, like the judging, and vengeful…” Let us choose to celebrate and share stories in “the color of peace,” which Mattie tells us is “people, together.”

I am about to head back to Americus for another #Roadtrip4Peace, with lots of #PeaceCrew work on our #Pathways2Peace and #Communities4Peace journeys with our neighbors in Sumter County, GA.

On the long van ride and during our work with our neighbors in that area of our country, I will spend considerable time reflecting on and responding to and reaching out with “what now? what next?” conversations… conversations related to our changing world, and also related to our evolving “mosaic” production… conversations about our upcoming Peace Day(s) activities – from walks to toasts to art to prayer – as we celebrate Mattie’s 30th birthday with a series of virtual events.

My commitment to sharing the story, the mosaic truths of Mattie’s life and lessons and legacy, has not changed. But just as our Peace Day activities have been shifted due to pandemic realities, plans for how the materials will be produced are shifting as well, as I consider the impact and our mission of the project.

My goal has never been to “remember” Mattie, but to bring Mattie’s story and voice, his essence and message, into today’s world, so that he – and the truth of his message that #PeaceIs4AllPeople – can continue to serve as a source of hope and guidance, as each of us, and all of us, sift and sort through historic and current realities and shape the future with our voices and choices.

#PeaceMatters #MattieMatters #HeartsongsMatter #PeaceIsPossible #ChoosePeace #StartAtHome #ContinueTheConversation #PeaceIs4AllPeople #PeopleTogether #YouMatter

With peace,
Jeni Stepanek, PhD