By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Mayor Ronnie didn’t have a lot of time, as he had to get to a meeting in Florence, but there was something on his heart that has been a concern for several months: the continued decline in civility in our culture, specifically in the realm of politics. “The mood of the country….” he has said on more than one occasion, and at times it has been tough to stay positive.
To that end, the mayor made me a copy of a letter he received from the League of Municipalities that was entitled To Improve Our Politics, Start With Leaders, and which contained an article written by National Review writer John Hood. As is always the case, Mayor Ronnie had underlined and bracketed the statements which spoke to him, and the first one was, “Bringing together leaders from different walks of life can be a valuable step in working toward solutions.” The League is working on putting together a coalition of leaders to not only come together to solve problems, but to model for their constituents leaders wrestling with difficult situations it in a civil manner.
Greg Cochran of the League began his communiqué with the following:
“We have been discussing for quite some time and would like your input on the creation of a leadership group of municipal, county, legislative, state officials, business and non-profits representatives to discuss the myriad of issues facing our communities and the challenges of our citizens to reach their goals.
With the issues we are facing today; taxation of on-line sales; infrastructure, Medicaid, prisons, mental health funding; unemployment; underemployment; job force readiness, etc. it’s an excellent opportunity for the League, thru the Advocacy/Communications department to lead the conversation with round tables of leaders from around our state to recognize our challenges and propose solutions. Each of these issues are bigger than any one level of government or segment of the community can achieve on their own. Collaborative leadership will allow for the discussion and possible solutions to these challenges we are facing as citizens.”
The mayor went on to say, “We are talking at each other, not to each other. People get so convinced that they are right that they can become accusatory of someone’s character. Polarization is a real problem.” An interesting part of the League’s plans to build a coalition will include the study of a book written by Alabama’s own Andy Andrews, entitled The Traveler’s Summit. Andy is a New York Times Best-selling author, and has written over 20 books, the most famous being The Traveler’s Gift. We had planned on getting started with Summit, but Mayor Ronnie soon realized that if we were going to receive the full benefit of Andy’s wisdom, we were going to have to back up and read The Traveler’s Gift first. He read some of it to me, I agreed with the change in direction, and I am looking forward to getting started. We may be after it for a while, and I believe this stuff is going to be really helpful to our community as well as to my own journey with personal growth.
We were running out of time, and there was much to still talk about, but the most important thing left to do with the time we had was to pray. So we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner