A few days ago, I was reading an interesting article entitled Separated at Birth in which the author seeks out adults who were born on the same day in the same hospital as he was in 1949. He describes a variety of common themes that he has with his fellow baby boom generation members, but one particular quote from one of his birth mates struck a chord. He suggested that the reason the author, Daniel Asa Rose, was on this quest was that,
You’re interested in what connects Homo sapiens. You grasp the plain, astronomical truth that we’re on a microscopic pebble hurtling through space at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour–and in a very real sense, connecting with one another is the only thing that matters.
Since November’s election, I have received daily inquiries about how to respond. My usual quick response is to advise people to act locally and give hugs. While this may seem simple, what I am really suggesting is that the more we connect with each other, the harder it will be for those who seek to divide and conquer us to succeed.
Ever since he started his campaign, and throughout his first few months in office, the President has utilized classic demagoguery to disconnect us from each other. He and his allies actively encourage hatred, arrest and deportation of those who do not look like him. That is why so many of us have such an unsettled feeling. Since a healthy society requires that people connect with each other, living under the leadership of an administration that seeks to destroy that state of connection raises our anxiety level to unprecedented societal heights.
While I support those who seek to change the leadership in Washington, this task truly starts by digging deep community building roots at the local level. For me, it includes;
- making eye contact as I walk down the street, thereby acknowledging the humanity of every stranger I encounter;
- living in a neighborhood with sidewalks where neighbors and strangers regularly encounter each other on a daily basis;
- mentoring youth who face daily struggles with poverty and discrimination;
- supporting those released from incarceration to succeed upon entering our community;
- leading my religious community in a manner that helps our community connect with disenfranchised communities in order to combat racism and xenophobia;
- providing support to friends and family both near and far to maintain connections and offer help when needed;
- leading a local lake district to work together to protect the environment;
- engaging in genuine dialogue to build consensus to solve problems rather than sow divisiveness; and
- providing unique legal and consulting services to disenfranchised clients who likely would not find the help they need elsewhere.
These paths of connection are simply the ones that I choose. Everyone can choose their own path to connect with friends, family, neighbors and strangers, but connect we must. Through a web of connection, we can build hope. Failure to do so will allow demagoguery to prevail.
For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.