What can we do in the New Year to help build inclusive communities amid a time of polarization?
BY BARRY KNIGHT
To try and answer your question of how to be more inclusive in our community:
I am glad that the statewide elections are over and the heated rhetoric is now mostly gone. We were subjected to this divisiveness on a daily basis and the conversations focused too much on personality and politics, not sound policy. We all need to remember that we all love our nation, our state and the localities and communities that we live in. We also have differing views and opinions which, maybe, if we would be patient and listen to each other, we could learn a little from each other.
Differing ideas and opinions act as a buttress. Conversation, negotiation and compromise are healthy. They make us and our communities stronger. While social media is a wonderful new tool that helps keep us connected and informed, it is the personal contact we are missing and need. Nothing is more effective than a one-on-one with a fellow citizen to discuss ideas. That is why I enjoy going to the local coffee clubs or 7-Elevens to interact with my neighbors to exchange ideas and continue interacting with my friends.
We can also build and strengthen our relationships with our neighbors through the PTA, when our kids are playing sports and we are in the stands cheering them on or volunteering through local 4-H clubs. These activities and other types of community engagement help us to know our neighbors better and help us build stronger communities. Hopefully journalists could print more good news like this instead of chasing distracting and negative headlines.
We have such a great area to live — the country. Citizens in other areas of the city envy our neighborly ways. While our neighbors could live a few miles away, folks in the city may not know their neighbors two houses down. Our personal interactions help make our home the wonderful place that it is to live and other communities could learn a thing or two from us.
Let us remember that there are many more things that bring us together than divide us, and in doing so we continue to make our home the great place it is and our lives all the better for it.
The Independent News posed a question to community leaders, writers and artists: What can we do in the coming New Year to help build inclusive communities amid a time of polarization? If you would like to share your own thoughts, respond to this project or even complain, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knight, a farmer, is a Republican who represents the 81st Virginia House District.
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