Person to Person: Start the Conversation

Earlier this week, I shared a post on social media which I think is even more relevant today after the events of Jan. 6 in both Washington D.C. and across the country.. 

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Today.” – Mother Teresa

Now, normally, we don’t advocate to do things alone. After all, the saying is “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” 

But following Mother Teresa’s teachings, “alone” in this case means not waiting on the “powers that be” to make things better. Instead, alone means that change happens on a personal level. 

Mother Teressa believed that one of the most important things in a person’s life was respect and to be heard. The reason she was so influential was because she listened intently to whoever she was talking to, whether it was a world leader or a beggar on the street. Both were equally important in the world. In reality, it’s a very simple concept: respecting and listening to one another, each and every one of us. It is making every person’s voice heard, every person’s opinion considered, every person’s thoughts valued.How does that happen? 

It’s having a cup of coffee with someone and having that tough conversation. It’s having a civil discussion over dinner with someone you may not agree with. It is taking the time to say things face-to-face, where there can be a civil discourse, rather than one-sided diatribes.

 We begin to have civil conversations with one another, even those we don’t agree with. I believe Civic Saturdays are important, where we gather to have civil conversations to nurture a shared purpose. So far, my Civic Saturday experience has only spread as far as my dining room table with my own children, but I hope to bring it to the entire community as a way to engage friends and strangers in a common goal – civic engagement.

We also need to show respect for one another. While social media may keep us connected, it is also terribly dividing. People say things online that they would never – or at least I hope they would never – say in person. Maybe we should reinstitute another old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Moving forward, we do not have to be what we saw in D.C. We can be – and we are – better than that if we are willing to work together.While we need government for certain aspects of our lives, we cannot wait on them to solve all our problems. As individuals, we need to work together to make the change we want to see happen. Do you want to see a new project happen? Then start the conversation. Do you want to see improvements at your school? Then start the conversation. Do you want to see changes in your community? Then start the conversation.

We need to simply remember that everyone wants what is best for them, for their families and for their communities. We just have different ideas about how to get there. It is that middle ground between the ideas that we need to come together to find. 

And that is why the conversations are so important. Start with one-on-one conversations. Soon you’ll discover that you have more in common than you have differences. Because by working together, we can make McCook- and our entire country – an even better place to call home. 

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