To help bring our community together in a time of extreme polarization, LebTown has invited a variety of community leaders to share columns this week on the topic of unitedness and healing.

We feel this topic is important to discuss given the unprecedented protest activity we witnessed across the nation last week, as well as the increased stress felt right now by many due to the ongoing public health and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to submit your own column to LebTown, please start by reading our guidelines here.

We live in the United States of America where the constitution grants us certain rights like freedom of speech. You have the right to protest, which is a public expression of objection, disapproval or dissent towards an idea or course of action… typically a political one. Unfortunately and sadly, this freedom has gotten hijacked lately by those who want to cause disruption.

What happened to George Floyd is unacceptable and a tragedy. There needs to be justice, but it will not be obtained with chaos and destruction. As I indicated in my “Welcome Speech” at the protest, every voice whether shouted or whispered deserves to be heard, but there is a civil way to go about it. In President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Speech many years ago, he stated that “it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of all others and to respect the law of the land.” How appropriate to what is transpiring today. There must be law and order. Law and order must be unprejudicial.

When citizens believe that they are heard and are provided respect, their healing will start. Healing brings peace and it needs to occur in each one of us. It starts in our individual home, as well as, in our home of Lebanon. Home is where our hearts are. Peace cannot be obtained until we are willing to think of others before ourselves; when we accept each other for who we are and respect our differences. The best way to stop violence and discrimination is to celebrate our differences.

It is vital to our future that we put aside differences, come together and be united. We need to understand who we each are as individuals and recognize that we also represent a family – our Lebanon family. By showing compassion, understanding and respect when we are divided will promote the unity needed to promote peace. We can inspire and energize. When appropriately supported and empowered, there can be no group more powerful or more able to change our community than US!

Martin Luther King, Jr. has said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Understanding sheds light on many differences which allows love to find its way. Peace, understanding, light and love – I choose for my family, my Lebanon family. My sisters, my brothers – What do you choose?

Sherry Capello is currently serving her third term as Mayor of the City of Lebanon.

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