Healing Our Nation Starts at the Community Level

Consider this way of looking at the world. What if we saw every child as our child, every neighborhood as our neighborhood, and every community as our community? If we thought this way, would we act differently in our response to the turmoil happening across the country?

We’re all struggling and the pain our nation is feeling is trickling down into our communities. And while much of what’s happening is beyond our control, and certainly leadership and policy decisions must happen on a national level, locally is where we can make a real difference. Building communities where people feel safe and loved is the key to moving our nation forward. We all need to come together to make it happen. There is no other option now.

The healing we desperately need requires relationship building, the heart of which is listening to each other. It’s the only way we’ll be able to have open and honest dialogue. This starts with neighbors talking to neighbors.

Over the years it has been easy to detach from the neighborhood concept. With all the mobility we have been afforded, we’ve come to think of ourselves as rugged individualists. Yet we all have a deep human need to feel that we have a home, that we matter, and that we belong. People are longing for connection—even more now after nearly three months of fear and isolation.

So here is a challenge for us all: let’s use the past few months (and especially the past two weeks) as an impetus to reach out, connect, love, and heal. Let’s engage and include everyone. Let’s change our attitude toward our neighbors. If we can start to think of every child as our child, it changes our mindset and we’ll start to make good decisions that work for everyone.

I am reminded of the story of Dr. Donald Liu. Back in 2012, Dr. Liu was chief of pediatric surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comer Children’s Hospital. In August of that year, he jumped into Lake Michigan to save two young boys from drowning. Though the boys made it back to shore safely, Dr. Liu did not. He literally gave his life for children who were not his own, just because that’s how he saw the world. In his eyes, every child was his child.

As community leaders and citizens, we can all keep this attitude in mind with every decision we make. Yes, we have big problems to solve, but we can approach them with the mindset that we truly are all in this together.