Haddad: Donna's plea, 'Stop shouting and bickering long enough to listen'
In 2002, American writer Margaret J. Wheatley wrote, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about... In our daily life, we encounter people who are angry, deceitful, intent only on satisfying their own needs. There is so much anger, distrust, greed and pettiness that we are losing our capacity to work well together.”
Last week I was contacted by a reader named Donna. Like many of us, she is disheartened by a social virus that seems to be spreading in our country, and she is concerned it is infecting our community.
She wrote, “Just last night I had been commenting to a friend on how nice it was to live in our community where we are somewhat insulated to what is happening in other communities of our nation (Minneapolis, Portland, etc.) and she made a very wise comment about those other communities, that they were probably at one time just like our community.”
Donna wanted to remind us that it is our responsibility to discover what our community cares about, and that our individual actions determine if this truly is “Everybody’s Hometown.”
She continued, “Stop shouting and bickering long enough to listen to each other, don’t be afraid to speak up when things are not right, but use your ‘inside voice.’ I have lived here for over 20 years and the thing that I enjoy the most is when I run into people I know when I am out and about, stopping to chat with a neighbor in the store or on the square. I still remember my first Halloween here, I was so impressed with how polite all of the young people were. We are a very ‘giving’ community — many opportunities to volunteer abound. We are also a very faith-based community for those so inclined to participate. As we grow as a community, folks need to remember what attracted them to Prescott in the first place and respond in kind. Be polite, don’t use our roads like they are freeways, get to know your neighbors, help your neighbors. Say thank you to a police officer, firefighter, the person cleaning the store where you shop, you get the idea. We are all responsible to make our community the one we want to live in.”
Along with her responsibility reminder, I love what Donna captured in her simple suggestion that we use our “inside voice.” While I recognize an inside voice is not always heard by those refusing to listen, her sentiment conveys the idea of respect for one another. The respect we try to teach our children. It acknowledges that we will have disagreements and there needs to be healthy debate, but it does not mean we must throw civility, courtesy and human dignity out the window.
In recent years, our nation has seen too many bad examples coming from celebrities, elected officials and community leaders who think it’s OK to debase, demean and attack others just because they disagree on political policy or hold different opinions.
In our community, we must not lower ourselves to this level of immaturity. There was a time not long ago when our society would not condone or tolerate such unbecoming, disrespectful behavior from our leaders. But today, there are some who celebrate this bad behavior, and even emulate it, teaching their own children that this is acceptable. What’s worse, some of these politicians and parents are embracing racist, elitist beliefs and forgetting that the strength of this nation is the Constitutional call that all are created equal.
I share Donna’s desires for our hometown community and its residents. Her words are a reminder that we can choose what kind of community we want to be, and discover what we care about. This is indeed a giving community with many good people and good things happening every day. For this I am grateful, and I hope residents will shun the viruses that divide us.
“I believe we can change the world if we start talking to one another again.” — Margaret Wheatley.