Good Saturday, everyone! United Way believes, at all ages, education is key. In other words, one should never stop learning.

Personally, I don’t watch television; I prefer to read. But I prefer to read books, and yes, I like to still hold a book in my hands and turn each page, that are nonfiction, a biography, autobiography or inspirational book, like “The Purpose Driven Life” that makes you think and puts you on a personal journey.

You don’t have to read to learn, but right now everyone needs to educate themselves, however you can do that, on Black history, Jewish history, American Indian history (you are welcomed, Jerry), so you can better understand what has happened in our country in the past. You need to actually put yourself in their shoes, as I stated last week as best you can, to understand where all this anger is coming from. Frustration that has been pent up for years, decades actually.

We may not feel like we can do much for all the damage being done outside of our community, except pray, of course, but we can start right now to make a difference in our community. Everyone has to be willing to learn from each other. To listen to each other with an open mind, to empathize with them. It has to start now, and it has to start with you, and it has to start with me.

I wrote a few years back about one of my favorite songs from Michael Jackson, “The Man in the Mirror.” “I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love. It’s time that I realize that there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan. Somebody’s broken heart and a washed-out dream. They follow the pattern of the wind ya’ see. Cause they got no place to be that’s why I’m starting with me.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make that change.”

One thing, maybe one of the most important things, we can do right now is apply to join the Citizens Police Academy. John Beninati and Sybil Mervis both have communicated to me how eye-opening this program was, especially the ride-along. The Citizens Police Academy is a program designed to build a better understanding between citizens and the police through education and positive interaction. It’s an eight-week program; you meet once a week for three hours.

If residents are going to get mad over our police handing out Popsicle to kids, then we need this so our police can understand you and you can understand them. You want change; I want change. But change is hard and trusting someone is hard if they have failed you in the past.

To make this town stronger, we have to unite, and learn from each other, and be willing to start with a small gesture even if that might be with a Popsicle.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 425 N. Gilbert St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone, 442-3512.

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