It has been nearly six months since the pandemic affected us in Calaveras County. Each month since, I felt confident that the following month would return us to a sense of normalcy. Yet here we are still trying to sort through the mess of 2020.
Over the past week, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with leadership at the local, state, and federal levels to collect interviews that we are compiling for our annual State of the County. There have been many concerns expressed over the devastating events of 2020. But repeatedly I heard that the most devastating was the divisiveness our country is facing.
I feel it; do you? During political seasons I expect to feel overwhelmed by the barrage of friends on both sides of the aisle claiming injustice and hatred from the other side. But this time it feels more intense. It feels at times inescapable.
Remember the day after 9/11? What about the Butte Fires? Do you remember what it felt like when our community experienced major crisis and how we came together? Why is it different today?
Right now, more than ever, our country needs leaders. And despite us being in a political season right now, I’m not talking about political leaders. Yes, they are important, too; but, I’m talking about leaders who unite us. Leaders who breathe hope and positivity into our day. Leaders who can sort through the mire and show us a map forward. Leaders who are in our churches, leaders who are in our non-profit organizations, leaders who run their small businesses, leaders who run major corporations, leaders who sit on boards, leaders who are middle managers, leaders who are on the front lines, leaders who heal, leaders who are administrative assistants, leaders who are janitors, leaders who teach, leaders who serve.
In the words of my friend, John C. Maxwell, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” And what we need right now in our country and in our county are leaders who influence our community to come together and celebrate our differences, not highlight what separates us.
Abraham Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
The time is now, the leader is YOU, and we need you. We need you to have patience with the woman on social media who is spewing hatred because she is terrified by what is going on around her. We need you to show empathy to the man who has continuously felt profiled and set apart because of the color of his skin. We need you to demonstrate compassion with those who are struggling to understand where they will get money for their next meal. We need you to choose to highlight those who are doing things right, instead of those who are doing things wrong. We need you to recognize the beauty in our county, instead of focusing on the ugliness. We need you to check in on your neighbor instead of driving by and mumbling to yourself about how they never keep up their yard. We need you to take care of yourself and take breaks from social media and news instead of allowing these to control your attitude and your emotions.
This yuckiness will pass. This chaos will pass. And sometime in the future, we’ll have the opportunity to reflect back on the events of 2020. When you look back will you see a leader? Will you see someone who led their team, their business, their family, their club, their church, their friends?
Hang on, and know that this, too shall pass. The Chamber is here to support and encourage you – through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s close out this year being #CalaverasStrong.