During the Thanksgiving season, I like to relfect on the many things for which I am grateful, such as my family, my friends, the occasional “fall” season day in Miami.
I am also reminded of great leaders in our community, especially my hardworking team at the Dade County Police Benevolent Association – and of course the countless police officers I get to work with everyday who generously serve and protect us.
It’s easy to be in a good mood when we focus solely on life’s simple pleasures. But just turn on the news lately, and it’s a whole other story. All over the nation, instead of love and happiness between all Americans, we see violence, anger, and hate.
Just weeks ago, we witnessed the awful shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. During the same week, we sat glued to the TV news as explosive devices were sent to 17 congressional leaders, past presidents, and political donors, only to find that the perpetrator was one of our own – a South Floridian living in Plantation, just up the road. Special thanks to our brave law enforcement for tracking him down!
And as we moved within days of the important midterm election on Nov. 6, we were barraged nonstop by political smear ads on TV perpetuated by candidates on both sides of the political spectrum, all conspiring to take us down the dark rabbit hole of divisiveness, while we rack our brains to find what’s actually good and true.
It was intense to say the least, coming to terms with the fact that the familiar cycle is always the same: A tragic event happens, we see it on the news, and we all come up with our own theories of how and why it happened, depending on who and what we believe. Each of us, entirely rooted in the belief that we – and only we – are correct, condemn others for thinking any different, and the next *insert tragedy here* just amps up the last divide.
This effect happens at all levels of society, impacting family members, friendships, marriages, how we relate to our colleagues, and as we see on the news, even how our leaders relate to, work with, and oftentimes inhibit one another. It’s the definition of a cycle. And it’s a bad one.
Our community obviously isn’t perfect, and individually, neither are we. We’re all a part of this divisiveness, and only we can be the ones to stop it. So in this season of giving and thanks, let’s strive for something greater than being correct. Let’s strive for accountability.
If you’ve wronged someone, right it – and don’t blame another in the process. If you’ve twisted a truth, restore it to its original form. Listen, learn, and understand from someone with a different viewpoint than your own. Your adversaries will thank you – and maybe they’ll respond by doing the same. None of us are 100 percent right, and the basic definition of humanity implores us to be compassionate in that understanding.
While this political climate makes it hard to believe that we have more things in common than things that separate us, at the end of the day, we all just want to be happy, we all want to feel safe and at peace, we all want to live well in a fair society, and we all want to live according to a basic set of rights that, as Americans, we are all granted.
With that in mind, join me in being accountable for our own actions, being open to understanding the opinions of others, and maybe, just maybe, we can all sit down at the same figurative table and find something new to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: unity.
Be safe, neighbors.