Those of us who work our schedules around the second and fourth Tuesday of each month being a Wilton Manors City Commission meeting had to find something else to do this past week.
Our city government had their usual summer break, voted by our Commission, to cancel the regularly scheduled City Commission meeting at the beginning of August. Needing my regular fix for city politics, I attended the Community Affairs Advisory Board’s workshop on Thursday night to listen to the discussion on the possibility of CAAB hosting a forum titled, “Community Perception of Wilton Manors Safety, Race and Law Enforcement.” One just needs to read responses on Nextdoor.com to understand how a black resident of Wilton Manors might feel uncomfortable walking down to the Drive or anywhere else. However, it was refreshing to hear residents of color who attended the workshop talk about their positive response and interaction with our local Police force. Also refreshing was the discussion on how all city employees have to take mandatory diversity training. Diversity training takes on many forms, not just racial, but also dealing with the LGBT community, sexually abused victims, seniors, people with disabilities, and those of other religions and cultures. Bravo to the City of Wilton Manors for working towards creating an atmosphere that motivates employees to overcome apprehensions and negative assumptions with fellow employees, the public they serve, and within society as a whole.
Now wouldn’t that be great if we expected the same from a particular Presidential candidate and those who cheer him on. Donald Trump continues to use hatred and fear mongering in his attempt to claw his way to the White House. Crowds of his supporters continue to demonstrate their prejudices and hatred toward certain groups of fellow citizens of this great nation with louder and more visible contempt. Our society has come a long way in accepting others’ cultural differences, sexual orientation, and religions. Unfortunately, we see how quickly all that can be taken away by a single demagogue firing up the masses.
The desensitizing of the American public to insane behavior does not stop with Donald Trump. We barely blink an eye when we hear of the latest mass shooting, the killing of an innocent victim of police violence, or the rising death rate due to gun violence in American cities such as Chicago. The news is much grimmer beyond our shores. Two million people in Aleppo, Syria, are without basic needs and are trapped in an unending war zone. Refugees are stranded by the thousands in Greece as the doorways to a safe life for their children are slammed shut in Europe and Turkey. Libya is spiraling down a path to anarchy. Abducted schoolgirls are used as human shields in Nigeria by Boko Haram. The world we live in has definitely taken a turn toward a more dangerous and unknown future. This unease and breakdown of order leave good fellow Americans vulnerable to the rants of hatred and lies coming from Donald Trump, as he tries to bamboozle American workers, middle class voters, farmers, religious conservatives, and gun owners that he actually cares about them and their issues. Really? And at the expense of American Muslims, Mexicans, veterans’ families, the poor, perhaps you and me next.
So as summer break comes to an end, kids are getting ready to go back to school and election frenzy is kicking into high gear, it’s time we take a good hard look at what is going on in our society and take a good hard look at ourselves. There is still much work to be done. We must work together to bring about the change we would like to see in this country and throughout the world, but we must start close to home, right here with ourselves, our neighborhoods, our community and our great city we call Wilton Manors. ‘Cause then life will truly be so much better here ….