This past year, levels of tension and angst have risen in communities from coast to coast. Each issue elicits strong opinions and hateful words, polarizing segments of our communities fueled by the unending stream of social media. Is anyone else exhausted by it all? Maybe it’s time to pay attention to the attitudes prevalent among Millennials.
Take a look at the photo. What do YOU see?
This past year, levels of tension and angst have risen in communities from coast to coast. LGBT rights, immigration reform, sexism in the workplace, race relations – each issue elicits strong opinions and hateful words, polarizing segments of our communities fueled by the unending stream of social media. Is anyone else exhausted by it all?
Our community has not been immune to some of the divisive commentary that has re-opened decades-old wounds we all wished were close to healing.
But I believe there’s reason for optimism, and I feel bullish about the future of our H-F community. Why?
For starters, there’s an entire generation growing up that doesn’t view the world the way many of us Gen Xers and Baby Boomers do, in particular on the diversity front.
Recent research through Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Inclusion shines more light on this. The younger generations seem more willing to respect and celebrate individuals’ backgrounds, experiences, identities and beliefs rather than “bucket” people according to race, gender, religion or sexual-orientation.
So again, look at this picture. What do you see? Two lesbians surrounded by black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and mixed-race kids? Our children don’t see that at all.
This photo captures H-F’s U-15 Valkyries soccer team at the wedding of their coaches, Coach Angie and Coach Kim. It was an incredibly proud day for our community when the coaches told the team and parents they were getting married. The courage and pride in Angie’s voice, the elation and joy on the faces of these girls, the sense of love and acceptance by the parents ….
Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation … who cares? You know what our kids see in this picture?
They see two coaches they love, admire and look up to.
They see their teammates, whom they trust and rely on.
They see close friends, whom they respect for who they are, not what they look like.
They see a close-knit community celebrating the love of two people they care about.
This photo is uniquely Homewood-Flossmoor. Ask yourself: In what other community could this image be a reality, with the degree of unconditional love and genuine acceptance you see?
I believe Homewood-Flossmoor is uniquely positioned to show the country what it means to be a truly inclusive community – a community that celebrates and shines a light on the richness of our diversity.
So where do we go from here?
In the days ahead, I encourage us to be aware of our own personal biases, to walk in someone else’s shoes, to strike up the conversation you might otherwise avoid.
I ask that we challenge ourselves ― and our friends ― to speak up when we hear something not quite right.
I ask that we be sensitive to the words we choose, and consider the impact those words may have on others.
And finally, I ask that we work hard to be tolerant, patient and understanding and to amplify the good that happens in this wonderful community of ours. We have a great deal to be proud of!
The anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Our kids are well on their way to doing exactly that. Let’s commit to live up to their high standards to make a positive impact in this great community we call home.
Oh, and if you need a healthy dose of courage or inspiration to do so, or aren’t quite sure how to go about it or where to start?
Just ask our children; there’s a lot we can learn.
Brent Bachus is a 20+ year resident of the H-F area, where he lives with his wife Maggie and two teenage daughters.