From Conflict to Kindness

Published: July 9, 2020

By Jim Lichtman
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“To meet the challenge of our times… we must first defeat the enemy within.” —Robert F. Kennedy

While Kennedy was addressing corruption in labor unions, he could have spoken those words today, given the multiple challenges we face:

— A massive virus; unemployment; a struggling economy; companies struggling with new protections for workers and protocols for conducting business; attacks against science; attacks against federal institutions; blatant prejudice; a rise in hate crimes and tensions as a result of several shocking killings of black Americans; and a backlash against names, flags, and statues.

This is not the country of our mothers and fathers. This is not the America that I, and millions of others, grew up in. This is not a country that once welcomed the “tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

This has become a country where some believe that immigrants pose the greatest threat to their way of life; who commit violence against non-threatening persons of color; who refuse to see the vital need to heal rather than hate.

While we admire the motto, E Pluribus Unum — from the many, one — we are a country where far too many, far too long have been distrustful of the many that are different.

“There are people in every time and every land,” Robert Kennedy said, “who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”

We live in a time where humanity hungers for kindness; yearns for peace.

How do we move from conflict to concord?

American pollster, John Zogby, says “we all share a common set of values that make us American…. We are defined by the rights we have.”

I submit that we are also defined by the ethical values we strive to live by: honesty, respect, responsibility to ourselves and our community, fairness, justice, and compassion.

America is much more than a flag. It is a country whose actions speak louder than its words, whose humanity and inclusiveness shine throughout the world.

Eventually, these conflicts will pass. Hopefully, we will learn the lessons to move forward and become stronger. But we need to begin that process now.

Let’s accept individual differences without prejudice.

Let’s listen more and talk less. And when we do talk, let it be a voice of reason rather than contempt.

Let’s be kind. Say, “please” and “thank you.”

Be considerate of others.

Be more patient.

Teach by example.

When someone in your community demonstrates positive change, cheer them on, and let their actions inspire change in yourself.

The ethical value of civic virtue reminds us to serve more than our own interests. It calls for us to develop the consciousness and commitment to contribute to the public good.

Do good.

Be the change you wish to see.

Note: Computer systems upgrade postponed until next week. I will return on Monday, July 20.


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