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Cause for Hope

Our national political discourse has become increasingly toxic, but my experience with our local community and leaders gives me great hope. In particular, two recent local events have highlighted what I believe is right with our community.

The first, “Salute to Heroes,” which is spearheaded by the Veterans Supplemental Support Network (VSSN), occurred a few weeks ago at the Temecula Promenade. It brought together hundreds to honor those who have served our country and enjoy great food, live music, and family activities. It was a pleasure to see so many businesses and community organizations come together to support veterans, the enlisted, and their families. They have become vulnerable because of their service to our country, and many from the region rallied to their aid. I was inspired to see the community come around them. The event showcased the best our people have to offer: generous service, gratitude in action, and neighbors standing shoulder to shoulder. We have been proud to participate in the event and sponsor VSSN.

I was also encouraged by a recent meeting of the Southwest California Legislative Council. I know that the people who attend would seldom describe that meeting as inspirational. So, what makes a meeting like this encouraging or even inspiring? It’s regular interactions among members that make the difference!

The focus of the meeting in question was actually the organization’s position on California’s November ballot measures. Anyone who’s watched the political environment in California knows that these conversations have the potential to become divisive. Add to that the fact that our attendees have well-developed political and policy sensibilities. So, while some might emphasize the uniformity of businesses interests within the council, it includes diverse representation with people from a number of industries, cities, backgrounds, and interests. But as I listened to members discuss the propositions, I was impressed with evenhanded, patient collegiality I witnessed. People differed on points, but I observed engagement based on mutual respect and shared interests.

This was not the Washington sparring we watch on TV, but the steady rhythm of neighbors working toward collective goals.

The infotainment and political chatter served up by our media may move the needle in the Nielsen ratings, but deliver fruitless results. Conversely, what I have seen accomplished in our region the last few weeks lacks flash, but delivers by championing our shared interests and constructing community. It is a sure antidote to the fear and anger offered our national body politic.

Written by Dr. Drake Levasheff

Drake Levasheff, PhD, Senior Director, Murrieta Regional Campus Azusa Pacific University.

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