Earlier this year, in my first column of 2020, I suggested setting intentions for this new decade by reflecting on lessons from the past to create a more purposeful, meaningful future. I wrote:
“Let’s be respectful in our words and actions. Let’s give others the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that most of us are doing the best we can with our given circumstances. Let’s focus more on our similarities than our differences, and more on what people are doing right than what we perceive as wrong. Let’s seek common ground. Let’s love and respect those with different viewpoints.”
As I look back on all that’s happened in 2020 so far, I believe more strongly than ever in these words. The circumstances of this year have changed all of our lives in profound ways. The pandemic, the resulting financial crisis, and the racial injustices have shed more light on underlying issues and disparities that have existed for far too long.
And unfortunately, there’s even greater division in our country at a time when unity is critical.
By the time you read this, we will be in the thick of what will no doubt be a contentious presidential campaign in the United States. This pursuit of power and control, and all its accompanying rhetoric, has the very real potential of tearing us further apart. If we let it.
We all have a choice in how we engage in this process — and with one another. Today, my hope, my prayer, my invitation, is that we aim to see beyond our individual scope to the bigger picture. We have to work together to change our country for the better.
So, in this upcoming season, let’s take the time to really listen to and understand one another. If we disagree with another’s point of view, can we strive to do so respectfully?
Let’s be willing to unlearn old beliefs and to learn and embrace new ones — about race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, body size and shape . . . the list goes on. No one is “less than,” and the countless permutations of who we are as individuals add up to a greater whole, with a vast diversity of perspectives and knowledge.
Let’s advocate for, rather than fight against, one another. When we champion the ideas and causes that matter to those around us, we lift one another up. We lift up our communities. We create awareness, broaden understanding, and encourage compassion.
Let’s be intolerant of and stand against hate. Together, we can create a benevolent, resilient force that protects those who are the most vulnerable.
Let’s give more than we get — be it love, care, trust, respect, or generosity. The more we put out into the world, the more it will spread. It’s the kind of healthy contagion we need more of.
Most important, let’s live and lead every single day with these same factors as our north star, without compromise. We must be the role models for the change we want to see in every aspect of society.
Together, we can face and overcome the tough stuff. It won’t be easy, but it is essential. The health of our nation depends on everyone coming together. Differences and all.