Mayor Rich Walker
Mayor Rich Walker

A Message from Mayor Rich Walker

Political campaign season serves to highlight our differences.  Maybe that is why we seem so relieved when an election has passed.  Regardless of outcome, at least we have a reprieve from seeing, hearing, and even receiving on our phones a flood of messages that focus on how much we disagree about.  

But now, with campaign season and the election behind us, it feels more important than ever that we come together.  As a Country, yes, but perhaps even more importantly—we need to come together on the community level.  We live our day-to-day lives not on a national scale but on a local level.  Our hometown community is where we shop, take our kids to school, go to church, and socialize with our friends and neighbors.  So this is where we need to come together and support one another.  

At our core, we share many of the same goals and values.  We want our families to be safe.  We want a fair opportunity to earn a living that provides for our families.  We value education.  And we do not want to be vilified for what we believe.  But somehow, we seem to have lost our way on the road to civility.  In a country so richly nourished by a diversity of races, religions, and cultures, our melting pot seems to be boiling over with un-American levels of divisiveness.  

The ‘how’ of why this requires more space and time than we have here, and I do not presume to have all the answers anyway, but I now count as one of my values, the patience to permit others to have views different from my own without the need for me to disown others.  My wife and I do not agree on everything, but we also do not file for divorce every time we disagree.  It is possible, even helpful, to interact with people who hold different views.  But when that deteriorates from honest conversation and healthy debate to personal attacks and harmful rhetoric, it makes it almost impossible to be cordial.  

My instinct is to simply say, “it needs to stop.”  But how does it stop?  How can we contribute to making it stop?  What can we do in our community on a day-to-day basis to be more supportive and inclusive?  I would like to propose patience, understanding, acceptance, and a humanitarian spirit.  

Can we be more patient in listening to others?  Not just hear the first sentence they utter and then stop listening as we formulate our own response.  But exercise patience to hear them out, so we fully understand their view.  If we can understand their view, it will likely be easier to accept that view even if we disagree with it.  And if we engage the humanitarian spirit in all of us to realize that a person’s view on a particular topic does not represent the totality of who they are—perhaps then we pave the way to supporting others even if we disagree with them.     

If you would like to share your thoughts about unity, community, or if you have questions or comments you would like to share with me, I would love to hear from you.  I can be reached via e-mail at rwalker@cityofparkland.org or via cell phone at (973) 390-1453.  Of course, I am frequently available monthly at Parkland businesses and love to talk with residents there.  I encourage you to visit the City’s website cityofparkland.org and click on the social media icon that you prefer, to ensure that you stay informed on events and helpful information. 

Rich Walker
City of Parkland, Florida

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