We can all act to improve our civic health in the region The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

We can all act to improve our civic health in the region

We can all act to improve our civic health in the region

By Richard Morrison and Denny Barney Tribune Guest Writers

As longstanding PHX East Valley residents, we are proud to add our voices in declaring a continuing commitment to our country’s vision of “liberty and justice for all.”

This is a tumultuous time, but it presents an opportunity.

Our deeply held religious beliefs taught us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  In a complex world, doing this for those we don’t know may be difficult. We believe it starts with a commitment to community.

Many of the foundational elements of community have been strained as we struggle to understand current health challenges, justice and equity issues and our future economic well-being.

Undeniably, the challenge of rebuilding community is daunting and, in some cases, will take time, but that should not detract from our desire to improve the inclusive social fabric that has been a hallmark of Arizona.

Indeed, there are aspects of community life where we can do better. So why not make that a priority?

Doing better and being better comes down to doing all that we do with greater intentionality.  Most of us live our lives participating in major social systems, whether they are political parties, corporate business, religious denominations, or other large institutions.

In fact, almost all of these institutions have adopted grand mission statements and stated policies that embrace our highest values.

But all too often, leaders and followers alike have not carefully considered ways to implement those stated values.  Lip service doesn’t cut it, and it never will.  Instead, we must embrace our highest values. 

Some call for more civic muscle. Some call for more listening. Some assume government can be improved, corruption rooted out, and leadership made more effective and appropriate for our times.

Whatever the focus, we must understand and respect that everyone will not agree.

But that presents an opportunity. After all, how better to get to know our neighbors and our community than to engage in community discussions that will be an outgrowth of these challenging times?

As a region, that has been a secret to our success: open and frank discussion of how we can do better.

We can all take action to improve the civic health of our communities while also improving the lives of our children and grandchildren.

We won’t betray them, and we pray you won’t, either.

Denny Barney is CEO/President of the PHX East Valley Partnership and Gilbert businessman Richard Morrison is cofounder of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy. 

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