Responsible Citizenship and Change

WUCA!-led communities are more open-minded, approachable, tend to have more newcomers, and they allow new people to make new ideas happen. Studies show U.S. state populations seeing growth have a higher percentage of newcomers than native-borns. A rural community that I once worked with told about a person who had moved to that community within the last two years. With three children enrolled in the district, she was at a school board meeting, and stood up to share her opinions on the issue at hand.

When she sat down, the lady next to her turned and told her that she had no right to talk at this meeting. The shocked woman asked why not. The woman replied that “she hadn’t lived here long enough.” Though she had children in the school, she'd only lived in the community a brief amount of time which, apparently, equaled her value and ability to contribute. In our town, we know people who moved to our community 30 years ago who still don’t feel they belong because their grandparents aren’t buried in the local cemetery.

As a leader, you need to look at your policies. Are they welcoming? As communities, counties, and states, do you allow newcomers to move in and do you embrace them? Yes, leaders love it when new companies come to town. There’s a ribbon-cutting for a new business,  a rousing welcome to all the new people to town, then, in a month, the excitement dies down and the new people that the community was excited about become  “those” new people with all those “strange” new ideas. Or sometimes you hear comments when they become successful, they must have done something “wrong” and “underhanded” to gain that accomplishment. Communities and people in general, have a habit of trying to pull successful people down to their level because there is a tendency to not like people who are doing better than they are because they have such low self-esteem.

Really, we often only like change if the change doesn’t affect us.

The result is that the future remains the same because people often refuse to take their role as responsible citizens to make change that is necessary. It’s hard work. It is messy. It requires talking to people. It requires acknowledging the world is not as black and white as we thought. Change requires slogging through the “gray” of an issue to see it through the eyes of another’s experience. Change requires that we may have to give up our way and do it someone else’s.

Remember that for every result that you want, there is a certain way of thinking, believing, and acting. You can change without improving, but you cannot improve without changing.

For your community, school, workplace, and organization to become "WUCA!-ized" contact kim@ghorizons.com

Frank and Kimberlee Spillers are the co-authors of "The Be WUCA! Way, The ART of getting along." Available at www.bewuca.com