By Dr. Denise R. Ames
I have found that these 5 key issues need our immediate attention, whether we discuss them in the living room, classroom, boardroom, or factory. We have been pulled in all directions because of the coronavirus and George Floyd events. I think the fall is a perfect time to refocus on the key issues we are facing as a nation and world.
(I will resume the 12 insights on recent events on Friday.)
“We can only be divided if we don’t understand each other.” Denise Ames
1. Addressing Environmental Stress.
This is the #1 issue we are facing. And not just climate change but ocean pollution, loss of soil fertility, fresh water shortages, climate migration/refugees, global population, encroaching deserts, loss of biodiversity, species extinctions, and the list goes on. It needs our laser-like focus and all voices heard from all different camps. It could be an issue that can galvanize support across the cultural divide, if we can only learn how to see and discuss the issue from multiple perspectives.
2. Bridging our Cultural Divide.
We have become so polarized as a nation, bridging the divide seems an impossible task. Our shared values and common goals are eroding. But America, despite all our shortcomings, is still looked to as a world leader. Hopefully, American leaders will emerge who are beacons of hope for Americans and people around the world and who celebrate our common mission to tackle environmental problems and restore and reform Liberal (free speech, etc.) governance. Working on common problems brings out the best in people who are on different points of the divide. Differences fade, while working to arrive at mutually beneficial solutions.
3. Shifting our Attitudes and Taking Positive Action
It is very depressing to always dwell (as the media does) on what is wrong in our nation. I have found, that it leads to greater passivity, anxiety, and short-sighted solutions among the citizenry. Although protesting has increased, it doesn’t appear that much positive action has resulted from these efforts. The divide continues, perhaps even more entrenched than before the protests. Our problems are complex and need solutions from all sides (see #2). We have to humbly admit our “side” doesn’t know everything, while collaboration can lead to positive solutions.
4. Supporting a Local Economy
Recent events have been deadly for American’s health, psyche, and general well-being, but it also has been catastrophic for small businesses. Many are struggling to survive or have thrown in the towel altogether. Giant corporations have the means to weather the storm, with the luxury of gobbling up small businesses if they fail. I support small, local businesses as the cornerstone of a more equal and robust society, as well as more in tune with environmental resilience and personal well-being.
5. Enhancing our Sense of Well-being
The nation’s well-being has been shattered as a result of the pandemic and the general malaise affecting us all. Our world is turning upside down. Participation and confidence in something larger than ourselves lead to greater personal well-being, but we have to be wary of “causes” that demean others, and are exclusionary, short-sighted, and condone violence. When considering change the words of John Lewis are worth heeding: “Take a long, hard look down the road you will have to travel once you have made a commitment to work for change. Know that this transformation will not happen right away. Change often takes time.”
In discussing and thinking about the five issues I highlighted, I suggest remembering the words and actions of the late Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis “You are a light. You are the light. Never let anyone — any person or any force — dampen, dim or diminish your light … Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.”
About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames
Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.
Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus. Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.
Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released!
Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.
It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.
Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books