Originally posted on Louisville Business First, November 26, 2020
By Cynthia Knapek
The Leadership Louisville Center was built with the purpose of inspiring and equipping leaders to be better and do better. We feel a responsibility to strengthen the social fabric of our community and hope and work for change, for healing – to move forward, together. We’ve designed our annual civic event, the 2020 Leadership Louisville Virtual Luncheon with the theme Forward Together, Gaining Strength from our Differences.
Like many people throughout this country, the Leadership Louisville Center is looking around at our community with pain and frustration. But our hope is that struggle is often the harbinger of growth. We cannot solve or gain strength from our differences if we don’t face them. Our country is fractured, the realities of institutional racism laid bare in our direct line of sight. While many are realizing a sense of urgency to achieve a more equitable future for all we disagree on how we will get there.
Likewise, not everyone shares the same interpretation, or even interest, in coming together to figure it out. As we seek to understand what moving forward together can look like and what our role may be in it, we want to share the path we see.
Moving forward together cannot let bygones be bygones.
The image of holding hands and a chorus of Kumbaya is an unhelpful one – and diminishes the hard-earned experiences of our minority community. We cannot turn a blind eye to the struggles of black, indigenous, and people of color in the name of peace. And we should not want to. We understand that the conversations are hard, and the fight is exhausting. But the only way out is through.
Moving forward can only happen together.
As with all systemic change, solutions may be driven by grassroots advocacy of many – but must also be championed by those in power to have lasting impact. We must transform the landscape of our decision-making, too, so that the ‘room where it happens’ reflects the city where it unfolds. The work in both cases must be done outside of an echo chamber. We all need each other if we are to be stronger as a community.
The idea of loving your enemies is simple, but not easy.
We chose writer Arthur C. Brooks as our keynote speaker for his work on depolarization, but also because he recognizes the hard work in front of us.
“When I call for a standard of love, I am asking us all to listen to our hearts, of course. But also to think clearly, look at the facts, and do difficult things when necessary, so that we can truly lift people up and bring them together.” – Arthur C. Brooks, Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt
Many of us feel resistant to extending love to those on the other side of the chasm. It may seem like doing so would be to abandon the values and beliefs we hold dear. But it might simply mean caring enough about your neighbor to want to change their mind. Loving our enemies does not mean we halt the fight. It means we make space for discourse, education, and common understanding where we can.
This is only the beginning of the conversation.
Brooks’ message is a conversation starter, and we look forward to bringing additional diverse voices to the table. Joining us from U.S. cities including Austin, New Orleans, and Miami, are prominent Mayors from both sides of the political aisle who represent diverse perspectives and hold leadership roles not only in their city but on the national stage through the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As our country faces what some call three pandemics (COVID-19, racial reckoning, and economic crisis), they will share viewpoints on how they are leading positive change. Event attendees are then invited to post-event facilitated conversations.
We hope that these much-needed conversations will start to illustrate what moving forward together could look like in communities across the nation, and that you’ll join us in doing our part to shape a better future.
The 2020 Leadership Louisville Luncheon will be held virtually on December 14, from 9-10:30am. Find more info and register at our website: www.leadershiplouisvilleluncheon.org.