The things that have occurred over the past few months -- first with COVID-19, and then the tragic death of George Floyd and protests that often turned violent -- have caused all of us to wonder:

Can’t we do better than this? Can’t we as civilized people solve this?

One of the most important things we can do as educated and well-meaning people is to always treat everyone with dignity and respect. Every major world religion has as a core belief -- that we should treat others the way you want others to treat you.

If we treat others with dignity and respect, the way we all want to be treated, we will find that the resentment, which leads to hate, is gone.

I too am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the racism and lack of action toward solving issues that put us against each other. I know how it feels when others treat me based on my skin color and I do not want my children and their children victim to any forms of racism, including police brutality.

As we seek solutions to historic problems, we must listen to one another; listen for understanding with empathy. Often, people do not listen to one another.

While one person is talking, the other person is not listening. Instead, they are thinking of their point of view or thinking up a rebuttal for something they assume the other person said.

In the Native American culture, there is the tradition of the Talking Stick. When a problem needs solving, people would gather for a discussion. They would pass the Talking Stick from speaker to speaker. Only the person holding the Talking Stick is authorized to speak. Everyone else is required to listen. To be successful, the listeners must listen with empathy and the goal of understanding the other person’s point of view. It is not easy. It takes focus. It is important to repeat this -- it takes listening to understand the other’s point of view.

Listening to understand does not mean you agree. It means you listened and understand their point of view. Sometimes it helps speakers understand that their ideas need some more thought. Because this is a dignified and respectful way to communicate, we must always be dignified and respectful when we listen. No snickers, no snide remarks. That is not listening. By listening and learning from others, it prevents disagreements from escalating.

Listening is not easy to do. It takes a lot of time. Next Thursday, June 25 at 10 a.m., we will hold a virtual community forum to discuss how we as a community can bring about positive, lasting change. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. That is why we are seeking your ideas. We also want to explain where we are and what we are already doing. So, if you have any questions, please write them down and email them to questions@fontana.org.

Police Chief William Green and Parks, Community and Human Services Commissioner Felix Jones will join me in answering your questions. Join in on Facebook live or through the City’s website.

I began with “We hear you.” We have a great opportunity to make a difference together by talking with each other on how we do better. We have great challenges ahead such as making your voice heard, upcoming elections, and getting every person in Fontana counted by filling out our Census 2020 forms.

Remember, Fontana Together is more than a motto; it is our commitment to you.

(Acquanetta Warren is the mayor of Fontana.)

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