… Or maybe it wasn’t

Published 8:25 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To the editor:

I took part in the Unity Walk Tuesday evening.

As I walked down Main Street, I wondered about the effectiveness of events like this one and the National Night Out that followed. Do they really change anything? Does spending a few hours once a year with people you don’t know really change how you react to people?
My gut says no. Sure, everyone was polite and in a good mood.

Email newsletter signup

Mayor Johnson even shook my hand. If you know us, you know how difficult it was for us both. But it did not really change how we feel about each other. Our relationship has developed over years and mainly involves differences of opinion. I voice my differences and the mayor politely listens.
Look at your own relationships. You are likely to be polite to strangers and acquaintances, but you probably do not empathize with them. Hearing someone is not the same as knowing someone. 
Marches and nights out are feel-good events, but they lack substance, just like cheese puffs. If we want to make real change then we need to establish and maintain meaningful relationships. We need to understand the point of view of others and not just hear them.
I would like to see the police, schools and neighborhoods establish long-term awareness classes similar to those I attended in the Navy. Groups traded places in scenarios to not just hear the other side but to be the other side.

Empathy builds compassion. Let’s build some.

Chris Dove