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Plenty to talk about

Plenty to talk about Plenty to talk about

For the first time in weeks, I feel that something good might come out of all this conflict, disruption and confusion we are living amidst. People are talking. It is not just professional newscasters, delegated committees or governmental leaders addressing our troublesome conditions but, across the board, citizens are examining their own lives and attitudes. We have realized that all of us are hurt by the injustices that exist in our society. We must acknowledge and tackle the toughest challenges of social interaction. That is how a democracy works. Subjects that are hard to understand and even harder to discuss with people of differing opinions are being approached by all ages and people of differing backgrounds and persuasions.

Don and I are finding family and friends are openly wanting to talk about such matters as race relations, vulnerabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, personal economic uncertainty, emotional issues connected to human relations and the lessoning of opportunities. These are scary times, and we want to gain understanding and comfort by talking about them.

Perhaps people have been pushed to think and become engaged in affairs that were easily swept under the rug during less challenging times. Many of the conditions we are experiencing are unfamiliar to us and seem threatening. The disturbances of today are complex and interconnected. They are of a sensitive nature and we hesitate to step on “thin ice” and perhaps offend others or reveal our own insecurities.

The threats to our way of life have caused us to contemplate what we really value. With our pattern of daily activities disrupted and, in many cases, put on hold, we have had time to pay attention to the news and form opinions about it. Our thinking has been challenged by what we have read and seen. I have had some very helpful and revealing conversations during the last few weeks about public protests, systemic racism, police actions, individual human rights and public safety.

It is easy to assign all the horrific goings on to products of the big cities. Some in peaceful Harrison and Crawford counties might ask, “Why bring up subjects that will stir up trouble here at home?”

Check out the 2010 census figures for our counties; see what they reveal to you. What do these numbers say about our attitudes about ourselves and others and our resulting opportunities? We are not immune to racial inequities, depressed economic opportunities and threatening medical conditions. We have to ask ourselves, “How do these damaging influences play out in our communities?” There is something to contemplate here.

It has been brought to my attention that we need to talk across generational divides. Productive conversations will demand that we rethink how we discuss issues and even the terminology we use. Words and attitudes have different meanings to various age groups. There have been many changes during the last 25 years in technology, economics and social relations. Our understanding and experiences have likewise evolved.

A relative of ours has found a way to bridge the divide between his and his children’s understanding and experiences by each reading the same book and discussing it as one does in a book club. The book they chose was “How to be an Antiracist” written by Ibram X Kendi.

Another suggestion is to watch together a video explaining systemic racism presented by Dr. Robin Di Angelo. It can be found at https://www.gcorr.org/video/vital-conversations-racism-dr-robin-diangelo/. It is clear, thoughtful and opens up new ways to think and act that are positive and hopeful.

Many of our problems stem from our hiding in the shadows of being well-meaning but totally unaware of the seriousness and dangers to our minds and bodies of implicit bias. We inherited a world system and assume that is just how life is. Many of the ways we interact in our civic institutions such as business, schools, medical care and security seem OK or inevitable to we who are not directly harmed and have learned to live within the traditional guidelines. But, the current health crisis, economic challenges, racial injustices and political discord have laid bare the dangers that affect us all.

During the next months, let’s talk about it.

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