Bringing the community together – that’s the hope for many, especially in a time of fear, lawlessness, violence and extremism dividing the country. “To restore the soul and to secure the future of America requires more than words. It requires the most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity,” host Dana Michelle says to kick off this episode, quoting president Joe Biden from his recent inaugural address. Naperville’s mayor and several other regional leaders join together to discuss their reaction to Biden’s theme of unity and how it can be localized, social media’s role in both dividing and unifying people, the importance of making amends as a way to bring people together, and how we can all take a play a role in this, both as individuals and collectively.
Guests on the Show
- Steve Chirico, Mayor – City of Naperville
- Ronald M. Amato, Esq.
- Saily Joshi, NNU, PDAC Chair, and Chair – D204 Parent Diversity Advisory Council
- Erin Wikstrom, Financial Advisor, CFP®, AIF®
- Janice F. Guider, MPH, CHES® – Chair, Health Committee, DuPage County NAACP
“Going through a pandemic and going through civil unrest and watching social media and how nasty it can get, I think coming together is going to mean a lot for a lot of people,” said Chirico.
“I think there needs to be a strong unifications at every level. We all have a role to play in America united and we have a lot of work to do,” said Joshi. “It’s not just simply saying we’re going to be united but it’s the actual actions that are going to make a difference.”
“If there’s anything that we have learned it’s that leadership matters and it flows down,” said Guider. She explained how people look up to leaders, particularly politicians, for better or worse, and how such leaders need to be intentional when it comes to unity. “I think we have to understand that this is a long term commitment because there are a lot of hurt feelings out there. There’s a lot of misunderstanding. Perhaps the greater question is do we really want unity and what does that look like to different people?”
“Unfortunately our country is very divided right now and what’s going on in the federal level has trickled down to local politics as well,” said Amato. “In my view I don’t think people are comfortable with the notion of being so divided indefinitely.”
The Paradox of Social Media
One of the perils of Facebook and similar online platforms is that it emboldens people to say things they may not normally say in person, what some call “courageous thumbs.” In doing so, it can be very divisive. It can also lead people to be misinformed with loads of inaccurate information. On the flip side, social media can also play a role in spreading awareness of positive initiatives and bring the community together for the common good. The group discussed this paradox behind online platforms and how there’s a personal responsibility that comes with how one uses them.
“I think social media has created a lot of this polarization,” said Wikstrom. She explained that many apps and websites have algorithms that feed people articles and information based on what they may already believe. “So what you’re getting is people more and more cemented into their stances. So the amount of time I spend on social media is less and less because what I’m seeing from people is unkind.”
“There are a lot of positive aspects to social media and I think a lot people on it are more moderate,” said Amato. “They want to use as a platform to connect with other people and find out what’s going on in the community.”
About the Show
Finding Common Ground focuses on important current events and how they impact our diverse population. We are many voices of one community, often with strong opinions on every side of an issue. Here, through courageous conversation in the interest of discovering collaborative solutions, we hope to find out common ground.
All guests and viewers are invited to acknowledge the four agreements to courageous conversations:
- Stay Engaged
- Speak Your Truth
- Experience Discomfort
- Expect and Accept Non-Closure