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Bridging the Community Gap: United We Stand

The events of the last few months and weeks in this country have been heartbreaking. Every day it seems that the gaps in our communities grow wider as voices in the media bring to light new and devastating incidences of violence and community dissension. Every media outlet, social, print, or broadcast seems to be filled with the cries of anger and hurt and blame. The finger-pointing, accusations, and frustration expressed on every side has reached epic proportions with seemingly everyone blaming someone, some group, or some “other” for the culmination of discord that is engulfing this country today. At the same time, feelings of helplessness are also being expressed, by the police, by our government, by the academics, by the American people. What can we do? How can we heal? How can we move past this moment in our history?

One thing that history has taught us is that we must learn from it or else we are doomed to repeat it. Every society and culture throughout history has had its’ watershed moments which usually lead to revolution and an upheaval of the system. However, the thought that seems to be at the forefront of people’s mind is “will this watershed moment that we are currently experiencing lead to our destruction as a society”? Well, it depends on our reaction to it. Directly before another watershed moment in our history, the American Revolution, Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768 wrote The Liberty Song of which some lyrics [excerpt below] may be familiar to many:

“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all,

By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall;"

During this difficult time, those in the first responder community have a unique position by which to help foster unity in our communities and take position on the forefront of the effort to find solutions as a society. Some of the ways in which healing can begin in our communities is by the mutual cooperation and open and honest communication between factors of the community that are currently “pitted against” each other. Unfortunately, much of that supposed division and antagonism is media hype and when you get down to the actual human beings involved, they want to have dialogue and not discord because they recognize that something must happen in order to heal.

As community-invested citizens, we can provide a safe place for these conversations to occur in our own communities. Whether it be by organizing group classes, neighborhood events, and workshops or in providing therapy, support, and counseling in an individual setting for anyone who is reaching out for help in processing these recent events. Humbly, as we are not always experts ourselves, but as invested and uniquely trained members of our communities it is incumbent upon us to be a part of a positive resolution to the pain and divisive rhetoric that is tearing our country apart.

We must not forget that we are the United States of America and at the end of the day we must strive together for the same goal of a safe, strong, and cohesive community. We must begin to be the change that we want to see in our world.



Kristal DeSantis is an Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and founder of Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center in Austin, TX

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