Should Do Something. But What?
Ed Maier, Former Andersen Partner
I have been troubled lately by a matter that keeps
gnawing at me.
It relates to an occurrence at a recent basketball
game I attended. My 11-year-old grandson
was playing in it. I was sitting in the
front row of the bleachers, right at the out-of-bounds line, and a teenage boy
was sitting next to me. He was holding
an infant in his arms which I presumed to be a sibling. As occasionally happens during a game, a
loose ball came bounding to the sideline and almost hit him in the arms. The referee came over to retrieve it and
commented, in a professional manner, that there was some risk in holding the
infant so close to the action of the game.
As the referee walked away, the teenager made a comment which I felt was
a racial slur.
I did nothing. I said nothing. I continued watching the game.
I have thought about my inaction several times since
then. Should I have said something to
the teenager? Should I have looked to
see if a parent was sitting with him and discussed it with the parent?
I am also reminded of this question – should I do
something – when I listen to certain television or radio commentary. The issue
of my “doing something” is broader than just the question of dealing with a
possible racial slur. It comes up in all
sorts of situations – religion, politics, business, social. Is it a red issue
or a blue issue? Is it a Republican belief or a Democratic belief? Is it an
issue defined by Christian or non-Christian beliefs? Is it societal issue that
pitches the 1%-ers against the underprivileged?
Out of my personal frustration over my own inaction,
I spoke to a community leader who I respect. She pointed me in the direction of
two organizations with which have initiated contact. One is a local Dallas
organization called Together We Can. The second is a national organization
known as Braver Angels.
Borrowing from websites, here are brief descriptions
Together We Can (www.togetherwecan.one) – I understand
that this community organization was founded shortly after the ambush of
several Dallas police officers on July 7, 2016.
Its co-founders were a local pastor and a local attorney who came
together to create it. The mission
statement of Together We Can is to “…educate, enable and empower a
lifestyle of mindfulness and action against racism.” Its website goes on to state that “It
is an action driven initiative…a positive, non-judgmental, non-political program
that addresses personal and community development by making change inside and
out. This platform is designed for individuals, corporations, organizations
and everyone who will take a challenge to continuously improve themselves,
their communities, and the country!”
Since learning about this organization, I have
participated in two activities which I found meaningful. Both helped me think about issues around race
in a thoughtful, non-challenging, non-threatening manner. Through participating in these conversations,
they helped me listen carefully. By
listening carefully, it helped me understand the perspectives of people from
different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Braver Angels (www.braverangels.org)
– The mission of Braver Angels, once again according to its website, states: “We
bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our
I have not participated in any Braver Angels
activities yet, as I just became aware of them.
I begin my journey with them later this month. So once again, borrowing from their website,
I share with you that Braver Angels was launched in 2016. It is described as a “national citizens
movement to bring liberals, conservatives and others together at the grassroots
level—not to find centrist compromise, but to find one another as
citizens. Through workshops, debates,
campus engagements, and more, Braver Angels helps Americans understand each
other beyond stereotypes, form community alliances, and reduce the vitriol that
poisons our civic culture.”
Braver Angels uses the terms “Red”, “Blue” and
“Other”. Reds are voters who lean conservative philosophically on
most issues (or on some issues critical to them), or who tend to vote for Republicans. Blues are voters who lean liberal or
progressive philosophically on most issues (or on some issues critical to
them), or who tend to vote for Democrats.
Others are voters who do not lean either Red or Blue. I am looking forward to participation in my
first event with them.
I have begun to take some small steps with these two
groups to learn more about the different perspectives of my countrymen. I am doing it with people who I think might
be a lot like me, or not. And they might
be of a different color, ethnic background, political or religious
beliefs. It is my own first step to “Do Something” to
reduce polarization in my community and country.
In my 34 years with our Firm, I had the opportunity
to work with thousands of people. We were
all different sizes and shapes, from different backgrounds, beliefs and
communities. We did not necessarily agree
on the same music, the same movies, the same sports teams, the same politicians
or the same religions. But we did work
together for a common purpose—to serve our clients. And I am very proud of the way we did that
despite any personal differences we may have had. I hope I can feel some of that same spirit as
I go forward with these two organizations.
I also hope after you read this you will look around in your own
communities and networks and find similar opportunities. If you become aware of other organizations
doing similar work, I would be happy to share them with our alumni group in
Over two hundred plus years ago our Founders came
forward to “…form a more perfect union.”
It is not perfect yet, but it has continued to move forward despite all
our difficulties and differences. I plan
to do what I can to move toward that perfection by doing something. I hope you will also.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you have any comments, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org With graduation season approaching, if you are looking for a nice, inexpensive graduation gift for someone close to you, go to www.amazon.com and pick up my book – Think Straight. Talk Straight.