I was waiting tables at the diner the other day and a woman came in with a huge bruise on the side of her face and sat down by herself. She was seated by our hostess, who noticed she was rather on edge, but didn’t see that side of her face. The lady was so nice. She seemed to be enjoying her time eating there. I mentioned what I observed to the hostess and asked if I should say something, ask if she was ok, etc. She didn’t think it was a good idea because the lady already seemed on edge when she came in. I asked another woman I work with, she didn’t think it was a good idea. I asked another woman, neither did she. I asked these women because they are sharp, wise, and also because some have seen this type of situation before. I wanted to listen to the women around me because I felt I could trust their perspective and experience on this matter and the situation was sensitive since the person who I wanted to offer help to, if it was needed, was a total stranger.

I also asked a male friend of mine if I should ask if she was alright because he’s a fairly level-headed and caring dude and he said it depended on how she responded to interaction, but even when I tried to simply be her waiter, there was a wall up. So I respected that. And I didn’t do anything. I felt like I did the right thing in the situation. I tried. For all I know, she fell face-first in the water riding a jet-ski for the first time or something like that. It was possible. She seemed like she could’ve been an active type of person. Maybe it was a simple blameless, freak car accident.

But what if? And I didn’t do anything?

Even though I know I tried in a complex and sensitive situation, that empty feeling of inaction has been a feeling I’ve been trying to push back for almost a week now. But a reactionary response wasn’t what the situation called for and in the moment and now, I knew the best thing that I could possibly do in response was this:

Every month a community forum for men called CommUnity Frontline meets up in Historic Stop 6 and discusses what can be done for the betterment of our community’s (the whole of Fort Worth’s) experience with Education, Business, Jobs/Finances, Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement, Community Development/Pride, Families, Health, and Resources. We meet this Wednesday and our guest speaker this month will be a woman named LaTasha Jackson-McDougle, and she is Founder/CEO/Owner at Cheryl’s Voice, which is an advocate for children that have experienced Domestic Violence. We believe that this will be very insightful and helpful to us as we enter into trying to understand our roles with helping families in our communities and even our own personal families.

The link for where we meet is at the bottom of this post. If you know a man who you want to attend or who you feel may want to attend, or if you are a man and you’d like to attend, feel free to peep the information provided there. Again, we meet this Wednesday. There will be food, community, and good information to be shared.

Lastly this, the question I’ve been asked the most since beginning to tell people of my participation in this group is, “Why is this group only for men?” Which is a great question. The founders of CommUnity Frontline’s convictions there come from serving the community for years in various capacities and seeing that at these school functions, town hall meetings, outreach programs, etc. the majority of attendants are overwhelmingly females of varying generations or older males. They are the first responders. That is a great thing, but the concern there is that the role of the young, convicted male doing work to serve unselfishly in their community is close to non-existent and in the process of good work being done, they want to lead other young men to lead. Not by giving them a new set of convictions, but by taking the ones that are already there and giving them a chance to do long-term work building on objectives that their heart already cares about.

Of course, a huge part of the sustainability of our community will ultimately be women and men being able to respectfully address each other and cooperatively tackle issues together with differing perspectives and mutual gain, but our society is a very broken one and I do believe that this group’s intentionality will help facilitate the concrete building up to this ideal. We need men to learn how to be active in their community. Men of all races, creeds, religions, backgrounds, political views, etc. This may be a gathering of men, but it is not a gathering for any kind of “locker room talk”. My sincerest hope and focus is that through this process we will feel encouraged, challenged, educated, and enabled to be better men. So even though, as of now, the way we speak to each other is focused on the strengthening of men’s minds and spirits, I hope that females who also want to see progress in our city can find hope in the fact that, one, I’m sure that in their every day lives they witness first-hand that all men need to be reminded of the virtue of standing strong unselfishly, and two, that we will continue to be as transparent as we can be, and three, if they are in need of any resources that we can provide, we would be more than willing to network them with able people already tackling their specific concerns. We are a young group, but we hope to have video tapings of our community forums when possible and an upcoming website to keep the community as a whole in the loop and up to date as far as what initiatives we have taking place in our neighborhoods. We intend on being as wholly effective and transparent as possible and we hope that no matter what your gender is, you can bring issues and concerns to the group and feel confident that you have a multifaceted team at your disposal willing to enter into the concerns arising from the people of Fort Worth.

We’re a part of a non-physical system that is easy for us all to forget that we’re a part of and that we effect. In that system, which is a human one, we find many matters that are integral to having a healthy society slipping through the cracks. Sometimes, I believe, rather than calling for billions of dollars to rectify some of these situations, often what these situations are calling for are people who care showing up with a little bit of free time and saying, “What can I do?” I hope that men reading this can attend this meeting or the next one, but even if they don’t, my hope is in a time of an uncertain political climate, we can all commit to thoughts pertaining to our own civic responsibilities and our capacity for personal action and accountability. Thank you!

Torry Evan Finley – Community Frontline Narrator