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Come together to develop solutions for all

Come together to develop solutions for all
Come together to develop solutions for all
Judy O'Bannon

Jan. 6 — An uncontrolled mob broke into the United States Capitol as the Electoral College gathered to certify the 2020 presidential election.

Jan. 18 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

January 2021 — COVID-19 continues to set records for devastating our lives.

What a way to start a new year.

During the past months, we have all experienced many of the troubling harsh realities of life: a medical pandemic, political discord, environmental disasters, economic challenges and civil rights upheavals. Most of us have yearned for the start of a new year as though all our hardships of the past would just melt away.

But life doesn’t work that way. And maybe that is the saving grace in all of this turmoil.

Change is a hard thing for individuals and societies to do. Only when we feel the pain of current situations are we willing to forge ahead into new ways of living and thinking. Well, we are certainly pricked into exploring and accepting new solutions and compromises in today’s disturbing climate.

We find guidance and good advice in today’s remembrance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1950s and ’60s, our country was more openly segregated along racial lines.

Words were used on directional signs and in everyday conversation and practices that we wouldn’t feel appropriate today.

We assume some of the barriers to equality have been erased, but, in the past year, the actions of community institutions and leaders against minorities have aroused civil protests and unrest. Folks are responding to new restrictive immigration policies and recent questionable police actions against people of color.

It is a time to stop and seriously look at our own attitudes and the actions we have silently sanctioned.

We have at our disposal good documentaries on the life and times of the civil rights movements of the past. I have been reminded that non-violent protests didn’t just happen out of the blue. Starting in the 1930s, Highlander School was established to train people who were concerned about human oppression to protest peacefully. They taught folks how to discuss issues with those with whom they disagreed. How to listen in an attempt to understand where others were coming from and to build relationships between people. And, they taught activists how to respond to persecution with nonviolent actions.

The civil rights movements of the past brought forth leaders who saw a more equitable world in the future, a world where a diverse citizenry would come together and create new ideas and better ways of working.

In the wake of discord in our country, we have lessons to learn today from the leadership of Martin Luther King. We must consciously attempt to work with others to produce programs and conditions that solve our problems and take advantage of our opportunities. Conspiracy theories, threats of retaliation and appeals to fear and hatred cause death and destruction to our democracy itself.

Today, we face a new federal governmental administration. Many of you wish the election had turned out differently. You have viable issues and ideas to bring to our discussions. Let us not wallow in the name calling and suspicions of the past 12 months. Let’s look at the democratic process we have all been through and see that we can be poised for a bright future if we join together in an honest attempt to form new ideas with new leadership in a new world.

Fellow residents are not our enemy. Disease, poverty, prejudice, greed, hate and fear are the demons that have always plagued mankind.

We are up to the task, and we are a hopeful people. Let’s give our new leaders a chance and an honest infusion of our efforts and ideas.

The past election was a wake-up call to us all that no one can sit out their responsibilities as citizens to participate in what makes our communities function. The 2020 record turnout of voters tells me Americans heard the call. Now, let’s do something about it.

Let’s sit down and talk with all kinds of people with differing ideas, not to persuade others to our way of thinking, but rather together to develop new and creative solutions that best meet all our needs and hopes.

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