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Have you ever entered into a quiet room with someone else to have a meaningful discussion where you can hear one another to come to a mutual understanding about serious issues? It requires concentration, compassion, focus and the ability to hear and be heard. Then, as more people enter the room to perhaps pursue a similar conversation, the ability to have that meaningful discussion becomes more and more difficult so that not only you, but also others around you, are speaking at a much higher volume. They’re speaking in a loud voice not necessarily to prove a point but just to be heard.
As you know communication becomes more difficult and the message becomes much more unclear creating more opportunity for error, misunderstanding, and ultimately, a parting of the ways without resolving what first started as a peaceful, honest dialogue about some serious concerns.
Well, with the recent tragic events that are unfolding throughout our country, I believe we find ourselves in a large room where any chance of meaningful dialogue is being drowned out by the noise all around us. In many cases honest, heartfelt conversations are being drowned out by hateful conversations and actions. To start, we need to have some serious conversations that involve a lot of listening. How can we possibly resolve our “differences” if we can’t hear each other? I know that if I am to continue to be an effective leader, I must first be an effective listener.
As we look at the trouble “others” are creating we need to look at ourselves, take responsibility and see in what way are we contributing to the noise and chaos, either by our loud voice or by our silence. We each need to take ownership to what we have said or not said, done or left undone to help resolve the real issues that face our cities and society. As we begin to clean up the debris in our nation’s cities to replace the merchandise that once sat on display in an orderly fashion, we should sort through the “debris” in our own not-so-orderly lives that often lead to prejudice and inaccurate conclusions preventing us from being able to reconcile our differences. As your Commissioner it has been my priority to listen first and I want to do that even more intently in the days ahead.
It is my hope and prayer that we, as a society, can find a quiet room so we can hear one another clearly and once again have meaningful dialogue to clean up our lives and clean up our cities to help create a better future.