Build Relationships, Not Walls: Reconnecting With Your Community

It hasn’t even been a full month yet and Donald Trump’s presidency has already turned the world on its ear. From trying to erase evidence of climate change to enacting what people have dubbed the #MuslimBan, we’ve seen the love/hate battle from both sides of the spectrum. In a presidential era where hateful rhetoric, claims of fake news, and the complete lack of compassion (or facts) is now the norm, it’s more crucial than ever that we reconnect with our communities and the world around us, and make a concerted effort to support those who need it the most. Don’t know where to start? Here are three stepping stones that will set you on your journey toward strengthening ties to your community and the world around you:

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Envision yourself in someone else’s shoes.

At times, we are so caught up in personal issues, we fail to see that what might be difficult for us is not necessarily difficult for others. It's okay‒we're only human. But at this moment, we need to learn to shift focus to see ourselves in someone else's situation. Such is the case with the current immigration and refugee issue. A few days ago, President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations. The order also indefinitely denies refugees entry to the country. This executive order‒referred to as the #MuslimBan‒has been the recipient of significant backlash and concern. Though it's a bit rash and there has been no harm done to the U.S. from either the refugees or the banned countries, the order was made with the intention of strengthening immigration policies and protecting ourselves from those who would commit terrorist acts in our country. The ultimate goal is to hold everyone wanting to immigrate to the United States accountable. We also don't want to increase the amount of illegal residents coming to the United States when others have paid their dues to become citizens the legal way, but the order's poor execution has seen a rise in protests, and families have been separated without knowing why. The net result is that there are three different groups trying to figure out where they stand with respect to the U.S. If you think you're having a hard time right now, image what these people are going through as a result of this issue.

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Stay informed on all aspects of the issues

Reconnecting with your community starts with learning where it stands, where it’s been, and where it’s headed. We have, unfortunately, entered an era where fake news and alternative facts are more prolific than ever. We have entered an era where scrutinizing the media has become an Olympic sport, the fine line between fact and opinion has been blurred, and everyone has to have their say on everything. Our heads spin because we now have to question traditionally trustworthy news sources when compared to the new kids on the media scene. We all know that the media only shows us what it wants us to see, but thanks to the Internet and ever-growing social media platforms, the media has now begun to show us only what we want to see. This new age of technology has given us increased access to news and updates at the stroke of a finger, whether they are true or not. Getting information from both sides of the issue will help us to better understand where everyone comes from and to make educated decisions as to what we support and why. So, don’t limit yourself to keeping up with the news. Go out there and share the knowledge, brush up on history, and have thought-provoking discussions that will keep you in touch with what’s going on at the community level.

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Make a true effort to get involved

Taking a stand against some of the Trump administration’s policies doesn't stop at a single march, a single hashtag, or a single donation link. You've made the initial effort‒congrats! Now, make the effort to go beyond the level of support and protest. Start off small by choosing an issue about which you are passionate–like Planned Parenthood funding–and pursue it. If you’re a parent and want to be more involved in your child’s education, get to know your local school board and join your PTA community. Want to jump right into action? Attend City Council meetings or volunteer at your party’s headquarters. We shouldn’t be afraid to get into politics, nor should we let others belittle us into thinking we shouldn’t have a say. Whether you're a parent, student, veteran, or celebrity, politics has a place in everything we do and it’s here to stay.

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We shouldn’t let our differences keep us from progressing forward. We shouldn’t disconnect ourselves from what is going on because we're tired of hearing complaints from all sides. It’s time to stop spreading pessimistic, negative, and hateful energy, and put forth love, compassion, and understanding instead. It’s time to get involved in what’s happening, because chances are, it's going to affect you before you realize it. We are privileged to be in the United States, folks. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a country that believes in freedom and citizens’ rights, which is something to which many people in the world cannot lay claim.

It’s about time we started to recognize this.

 

By: Shanice Perriatt