Walk aims to unify the Naperville community
People put their best feet forward Sunday in Naperville to show their belief that we should practice compassion and respect diversity of culture, religion and race.
At least 60 of them trudged from a park on the DuPage River, through part of downtown, to Naperville Central High School, as part of the Community Unity Walk.
Christians, Jews, Muslims and people of other or no religious affiliation carried a banner and signs.
"This really is significant. That as religious people, we want everyone to know we're in something that is part of your religion, that is part of your right as an American," said the Rev. Lynn Pries, president of the Naperville Interfaith Leadership Association, one of the groups participating.
Organizing groups included Moms Building Bridges, an effort of women to increase respect for people of different faiths, nationalities, ethnicities and more in Naperville; Charter for Compassion; and the One Naperville interfaith group.
Why have it during a busy holiday time, and on a sleety-snowy day to boot?
"It has been kind of a hard year. There is a lot of division nationally," said Jared Mason, teen programming director for the Alive Center. "This is just a way to bring people together near the holidays and kind of shake out the cobwebs of neighborly separation."
Planning started about three weeks ago, he said.
Men, women and children walked about a mile, from Fredenhagen Park at Washington Street and the DuPage River, to Naperville Central High School on Aurora Avenue.
One of the walkers was congressman Bill Foster.
While warming up with hot chocolate and coffee, the group socialized and heard speakers from the various groups.
They also participated in an exercise from The Compassion Project, where they focused attention on developing compassion for other people, by recognizing that everybody is seeking happiness wants to avoid suffering, has known sadness, is learning about life and wants to fulfill their needs.
"It's kind of like a pledge to be welcoming to others not like us," Mason said.