Posted by: Nancy | July 4, 2010

Better to connect

Here’s a couple of isolated instances from two public figures, who went out of their way to be divisive, separatists and exclusionary.

Left me dismayed.

One instance was the governor of Kansas, speaking at an arts event, a beautiful, serene and contemplative scene in the Flint Hills. Thousands of people, maybe the majority of the crowd, from the adjoining state. The governor talks about the beauty of the event, but then goes on to bash his neighbors, recounting historical border wars and intimating that those from the other side of the line are less welcome.

Why? Why didn’t he embrace all who were there for a common experience? Why didn’t he invite everyone to celebrate the moment, the place, the experience? It does nothing to diminish the location, but connecting and doing so with grace would have immeasurably added goodwill and welcome to the already-unique environment.

The second experience was from our mayor, who’s blundered mightily in failing to connect with peers and fellow city dwellers. He used his state of the city address to take a jab at a regional chamber of commerce. It doesn’t represent us, he said.

Wrong. I’d much rather be part of an organization that bridges difference than one that is built on divisiveness. Shallow and shortsighted comments, but especially offensive as he tried to make the case in these economic times. He rather compete than recognize that we have an opportunity to cooperate to build a greater good.

It’s easy to divide. Flags, road markers, schools, sporting teams all make us different by our affiliations. That’s easy.

It’s harder to look for commonalities and celebrate reasons to reach across the divide. I keep this top of mind, preferring to connect. Maybe I’m naive but it feels better to me and I’d like to think it might help, somewhere, sometime, in some small way.

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