Mayor’s Monthly Column: Let’s Find Unity by Helping, Listening to Each Other

The effects of COVID-19 on Americans both nationally and locally have made this an election season unlike any other. No matter your political beliefs, your views on masks, or your cable news channel of choice, it’s been an especially stressful time when so many of us are already mentally and physically fatigued. During political seasons in this modern era, we’re faced with information overload from social media and 24/7 news outlets. Those platforms at times can divide us by highlighting our differences while, at the same time, creating an echo chamber that only reinforces our own beliefs.

The tension in our community and nation will likely not end after current election results are finalized. We often talk about reuniting after elections, and it makes for great campaign language. But today more than ever, the need to come back together and to reunite as a community and nation is imperative.

We need leaders across the community—from our business community to pastors to teachers to retirees—to help us find unity again. We need to be reminded that we are much more alike than unalike. We need to not let fear and anxiety create dialogue chasms that can become uncrossable.

So, what do we do? I suggest we do what Sioux Falls does so well when times get tough: We listen, we unite as One Sioux Falls, and we respect one another. Continue to check in on your neighbor. Call a friend and see how they are doing. Help those in need. Have those messy conversations with those who think differently than you and listen just to listen―not to respond.

We need to continue to have productive conversations around those differences. One example of this is the upcoming DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Summit, where I will be presenting on bridging the equity gap through mentoring. It’s conversations like these that will help us continue to move the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community forward.

Whatever the outcome of the election, I believe we still have plenty of reasons to be thankful and optimistic about the future of our nation, state, and community.

Let’s remember that those who think differently―or vote differently―are not the enemy. I hope that after the ballots are counted, our community, state, and nation can leave the divisive rhetoric behind and move forward in a civil manner. I know we can, and we will.

So for now, consider logging off Facebook for a while. Reach out to someone who you’ve distanced yourself from because of his or her views. Volunteer at a new organization that will expand your perspective. It’s in broadening our worldviews that we unlock a necessary uncomfortableness that can help move us ahead as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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