A Plea for Optimism

Foreword by Andrew Kaufmann, Digital Editor of The Catalyst
(via Twitter @DallasPD, July 7, 2016)

One of the themes that has repeatedly risen to the surface in this issue of The Catalyst is that the next generation is optimistic.  We believe, in our heart of hearts, that we can solve the world’s problems and we believe that if anyone can bridge the divide between opposing factions, it’s us.  We believe the best days for the world we're inheriting still lie ahead of us.

I would like to make a plea to my fellow members of the next generation: No matter how impossible it may seem, we cannot lose our optimism.

I would like to make a plea to my fellow members of the next generation: No matter how impossible it may seem, we cannot lose our optimism.

After tragedies unfolded in succession between police officers and black citizens – caught on the ever-present cameras of social media -- the nation was on edge and left white and black Americans searching for answers.  And then unspeakable violence broke out in downtown Dallas.  Dallas police officers that were protecting citizens attending a peaceful protest were attacked by organized gunmen.

I watched as my Twitter feed morphed from photos of policemen posing with protesters in a sign of unity to videos of chaos as gunfire erupted on the streets of my beloved hometown.

I was putting the finishing visual touches on this issue of The Catalyst as it happened.  I looked to the south out of the windows of the Bush Institute offices and stared at the iconic Dallas skyline.  From the four-mile distance of the Bush Center, it looked the same as always, with the exception of a helicopter with a searchlight circling above.

The video from the streets showed a different scene.  Dozens of officers scrambling to protect citizens and each other. Men and women who came to peacefully express their concern running to escape from a hail of bullets. Officers crying over the loss of their comrades.   In the end, five officers were dead, making it the single deadliest attack on law enforcement since September 11, 2001.

With that context, it feels absurd to type this.  But I repeat:  no matter how impossible it may seem, we cannot lose our optimism.

We have to recognize that there are challenges for the world and for the U.S.  This isn’t about putting our head in the sand and being a Pollyanna. We should be angry at anyone who attacks an innocent person.  We should be heartbroken that tragedies are happening in our country, in our cities, and out the windows of our homes and offices.

But anger, sadness, and optimism can co-exist.  As this generation takes the reigns of the world, we have to remember how we feel on days like today.  Days where we desperately want to shout at our Facebook feed to stop arguing and try for just one minute to see the world through the eyes of others. Days where it feels like there isn’t a divide to cross, but rather a gulf.

The Catalyst’s look at the next generation shows people who aren’t partisan.  It shows that we value solutions and good ideas, working together and listening to each other, and finding new approaches to leadership.

Those are the exact traits the country needs right now.  Generation X and Millennials are in the right place at the right time to lead change.  And because of that, even through the tears, I’m optimistic for the future.

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