Good Saturday, everyone! A lot has happened this last week and a lot of it got pretty ugly. But not here, not in Danville. Now, just to be clear, I write my articles a week in advance; things can change in a week’s times, but I have faith in the residents of Vermilion County.

I don’t know what the answer is, but to me it isn’t just a race issue — it is also a character issue. I have often said it isn’t the color of the skin that makes a person; it’s the content of their character. I just recently found that is a partial saying from Martin Luther King Jr., and I am sure that is where I got the saying.

Character is the evaluation of an individual’s stable moral qualities. Those qualities could be the existence or lack of virtues like empathy, honesty, and loyalty. No one is born with bad character; that is something that is learned through peer influence, media, teachings in schools, but mostly the behavior of an important adult or older youth.

To solve a problem, you should see it in a different perspective than how you see it now. Change will never happen without everyone being receptive to other opinions and ideas. Our own perspectives come from our own life experiences. So, the way to come together is by listening to other people with different experiences.

Real listening is understanding the perspectives of other people and then meshing them into our own. You have to compare the new ideas with your own to understand and grow and that’s mandatory for positive change. If you aren’t changing in some way, then you are still part of the problem. Everyone has to be open to ideas and other perspectives to move to a higher understanding of the issues.

When everyone gains a better understanding of other people’s ideas and perspectives, we all become better human beings. Changing your own opinions and perspectives is hard, but it’s also the only way we can make progress as a human race.

As Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide president and CEO, wrote, “All people of all backgrounds and identities must call out discrimination and demand its removal from our society; otherwise we are endorsing the status quo and are complicit in the abuses that follow.

“We must all do our part, working United, to make our communities the places that we need them to be — equitable, respectful, and opportunity-filled. We, as a society, can and must do better to guarantee that the basic human rights and freedoms of every person in every community are protected.”

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone, 442-3512

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