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Unity in Westerville

Post Date:05/07/2018 9:55 AM

On Thursday, May 3 members of Westerville Attended the Westerville Community Prayer Breakfast. Mayor Craig Treneff was invited to share his thoughts about the theme of the breakfast, “Unity: Pray for America.” His comments are below.  

"I want to thank Scott Marier and all of those involved with WARM for your work on the 16th annual Westerville Community Prayer Breakfast and for the vital role WARM plays in Westerville and central Ohio. WARM is a principal asset of the Westerville community.

I want to say a few words about the theme of this year’s breakfast: 'Unity: Pray for America.' 

Unity. It has always been a difficult concept, whether in faith communities or in our secular community. The difficulty is in finding ways to achieve and maintain unity among people. And, I think it is especially difficult today. Compared to the America in which I grew up, many more of us are polarized along both religious and political lines that are essentially rigid, too rigid to admit of any commonality of interest. When the idea of political compromise becomes literally impossible—as is largely the case at the national and state level—unity is thwarted.

So what do we do? How can we cut this Gordian knot of rigid ideology and mistrust of the legitimacy of other points of view? I want to make some suggestions based upon our local experience.

While Westerville is not immune to the divisions I just described, our community has shown, and continues to show, a remarkable degree of that elusive goal: unity.

Certainly, we showed that in the weeks following the shootings of February 10. Our community became a shining example of how people can unite even in these polarized times. We gained nationwide attention for the outpouring of pure selfless caring for the slain officers, their families, for our men and women in blue, for first responders, and, ultimately for our own sense of community, our sense of the character of our city.

What are the elements of this unity?

One is that we put our community above ourselves. People reacted to the shootings as an attack on the whole of us and found in our community a good worth protecting.

Another is simple empathy. Our citizens truly felt selfless compassion for the suffering of others, of people many didn’t know personally. I observed this through the days that followed, at public events, at the funeral homes, and, at the temporary memorial at City Hall.

And a third is that the overwhelming majority of our residents practiced, knowingly or not, the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. 

We found our way to unity. It can be done. I can tell you that as I continue to meet with and talk to our residents, it is still largely there and can be maintained if we practice these simple principles:

Talk to each other as equals and listen to each other.
Care for each other as people. 
Embrace being part of a community. 
Find what unites us."

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