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Take Time for Self and Community Assessment

Take Time for Self and Community Assessment (Photo by Tumsasedgars/iStock Images

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As a new year dawns, it is a great opportunity to take time for self and community assessment and commit to needed adjustments to keep moving forward in positive ways for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world.

Even if it takes more than a couple of hours to put things in proper perspective, imagine the potentially great return on a small investment.

Thoughtful introspection is a great first step, examining the principles and beliefs we hold that foster or hinder achieving the positive personal or societal changes we would like to see.

There are many benefits to be gained. So take time for self and community assessment.

As a starting place, some things to consider:

  • Contrary to what we may have been taught, no individual is an island or the center of the universe. We all occupy space. We all have purpose and roles to play in sustaining our family, community and country.
  • We are all interconnected in obvious and less obvious ways, requiring mutual respect and collaboration to address common challenges and problems that could be mutually beneficial–a great realization when we take time for self and community assessment.
  • The sustained quality of one’s life need not be built on the backs or at the expense and exploitation of other human beings.
  • One does not have to go about his or her daily affairs with utter, even partial, disregard for their neighbor, colleague, friend, relative or stranger.
  • Ignorance, perhaps, is bliss, only in love and only for a time. Remaining ignorant provides the breeding ground for vulnerability, keeping the least suspecting in the dark and at a disadvantage.
  • Burying one’s head in the sand — ignoring what is and pretending it does not exist — solves nothing. We learned that from the ostrich.

Those are some of the things to consider as we take time for self and community assessment.

Beyond ourselves,  we all know there are challenges — politically, socially, culturally, and economically—in our communities and our country.

  • The political vitriol and divisiveness are at an all-time high not only among elected officials but among ordinary citizens. Conspiracy theories are trumping our collective sense of reasoning, culminating into January 6 and all its consequences.
  • The majority of the public lack understanding of the Constitution and how our government should work, and there is continued decline in civic engagement. A realization that needs to be addressed when we take time for self and community assessment.
  • Instead of improving racial and cultural relations, they are worsening — even among young people once considered the best promise for real progress.
  • Our sense of safety from wanton gun violence evaporates almost daily, no matter how many innocent lives are lost or forever changed.
  • The economic disparities among the haves and have-nots grow wider, with no real efforts to change it in sight.
  • As long as the major problems and challenges we face as a country linger and go unresolved, the more they impact the quality of our everyday lives.

As dreary as examining these conditions can seem, they provide great opportunities to reconnect with some fundamental and inescapable tenets of what make for a healthy society that we have lost sight of. A great outcome when we take time for self and community assessment.

Take Time for Self and Community Assessment

Take Time for Self and Community Assessment
(Photo by Maria Marganingsih/iStock Images)

We can begin by reminding ourselves of the basic age-old premise that it is the kinship, and mutual respect afforded to and should be extended by each of us that advances humanity.

Perhaps we omit or avoid including that realization along with others when opportunities arise in our daily conversations.

When we look around in our homes, in our religious, educational and political institutions, discussing the need to return to civility should be as much apart of any dialogue or discussion as any subject at hand.

As we pause to celebrate the holiday season, there is no better gift than to ready ourselves for the work we can engage in during the coming year to make things better.

Each of us can do something.


Portions of this commentary originally appeared in the Missouri Independent, a state news publication sponsored by the States News Room, Washington, D.C., a nonprofit nonpartisan news organizations with publications in states across the United States.

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Janice Ellis
Janice Ellis
Janice S. Ellis, PhD, is an award-winning author. Her book, From Liberty to Magnolia: In Search of the American Dream is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major book sellers. She has written a column for newspapers, radio, and now online, where she analyzes educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status. You can see her writings on this website.

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