Two years ago, the nation experienced a profound call to examine our hearts and minds to root out any racism lingering in our society. At the Chamber, we formed a Diversity Council and the team undertook a 21-day challenge to better understand the plight facing many of our fellow citizens. While I cannot quantify the results, I believe our business community has made progress in the area of diversity and inclusion. Today, I want to urge us toward the allied principle of civility in our actions toward those with whom we may disagree. Our nation is in desperate need of fostering and modeling more civility.
While we often tend to think of civility as simply polite gestures, it is more than a pro forma response to opposing views. Real civility starts in our approach to how we view and respond to those we disagree with. Consider the questions: “Do we listen to understand or to be understood? Do you seek to know the WHY behind those you disagree with or come down on opposite sides of an issue?” Inherent in this process is an allotment of grace and seeking common ground.
The Salt Lake Chamber has stood on the bedrock of common ground since its inception over 136 years ago. This principle of seeking common ground and working to forge consensus is core to building more civility in our social discourse. Utah’s “secret sauce” of collaboration is not for sale but available to us all. It begins with each of us seeking to educate ourselves on a better way of handling disagreements and communicating with opposing sides.
In short, I believe civility must begin with us, in our homes and places of work. This is fertile ground in the battle for listening and coming to an agreement on ways to work together. Our society and nation stand divided, and we have been warned that a divided house cannot stand. However, the road to healing our differences and coming together appears clearly before us. It begins with a more civil approach to our fellow citizens and coworkers. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and enter the holiday season, we have an excellent opportunity to get started.
Our best days can still be ahead of us if we come together civilly to lead and solve problems. Civility is our charge this election and holiday season.