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It's Time - It's Time To Set Goals

"As powerful as government is, it can only do so much by itself.  Government can never take the place of parents in raising children. Government can never take the place of families and churches and synagogues in teaching values. Government can never take the place of people in our communities working together and looking out for each other.

Government can, of course, provide opportunities and encouragement. Government can help the next generation become better off. But government cannot make the next generation better. Government can set goals, but only people can touch souls."[1] 

I read this quote at my swearing-in ceremony in 2011 when I was originally sworn in as a Cuyahoga County Councilmember and it has been framed and hanging in my Columbus legislative office since 2017. 

In 2004, I met former United States Senator and Georgia Governor, Zell Miller. In a candid conversation with him, I mentioned that the above quote from his book, A National Party No More, had a positive impact on my view on the role of government and public policy.

As I've written in this series of "It's Time..." guest columns, the path to addressing and working to resolve the challenges facing our communities, state and nation can be lengthy and should be deliberate. The challenges we face are many and opinions are strong. In order to address these issues, we need to harness that same, if not an even greater, level of energy as used in the expression of our thoughts on these challenges and apply it towards finding a solution to these challenges.

In my guest column, "It's Time...It's Time To Unify", I have addressed the need for us to Unify by exercising respect and tolerance for those who have different opinions from us.  Followed by my guest column, "It's Time...It's Time To Talk Not Text", I have also addressed the need for us to exercise courtesy in our deportment with others.

If we have taken a day of reflection, if we have embraced the values of respect and tolerance and believe that courtesy must be a characteristic applied when conducting conversations on subjects that may not be amenable to some - then we should be at the point in the process where we can start to set goals.

"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to visible." - Tony Robbins

In order for goals to be meaningful and serve as intended, they must meet four objectives: easily defined, measurable, attainable, and have a deadline. The challenges that we are facing today are extremely complex - but that should not restrict us in our ability to easily define an overall goal or objective; the more nuanced details will be defined during the process. In order to be able to define the progress of the challenge, in defining the process, we should ensure that the pathway is marked with measurable milestones. In my opinion, the most problematic component of working through a challenge is becoming discouraged that the objectives are simply not attainable, at which point the process comes to a halt.  And finally, the goal should have a deadline.  We must have a timeline to work towards and a completion date for the actions identified. This will keep the process on track and moving forward. It will create a sense of urgency. I'd like to emphasize that throughout this process each of the four objectives, will and should change us as we move through the process. Flexibility is a key component in working through the process - changes to the objective may occur and the overall goal may be modified as the discussions progress. 

Once again, respect, tolerance and courtesy must be the driving characteristics in these goal setting sessions. Goals as articulated by Zell Miller, when he concluded "Government can set goals but only people can touch souls" is more evident today than ever.  It is incumbent upon us as legislative leaders to facilitate the process, but this is a not a one-way street - it's not even a two-way street, but a multifaceted highway for us to move forward.  We need everyone's participation and welcome engagement.

I don't know what the ultimate answer will look like because I am one person with one perspective.  Defining these objectives will need to be a collective effort, approached in good faith with respect, tolerance and courtesy. 

We must begin the process of setting goals - the time is now.
-State Representative Dave Greenspan, 16th Ohio House District
[1] A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat, Senator Zell Miller, Stroud & Hall Publishers, 2003, p. 110-11.

Guest Column: It's Time - It's Time To Talk Not Text

If we truly wish to address the challenges facing our community, our state and our nation – we must have the courage to take the first steps to talk, communicate and share ideas.  Taking that first step can be the most challenging, but one that we must take if we want to make tomorrow better than today.

Unfortunately, free speech – on all sides of all issues, is under attack.  At some point in our past, recent or long ago – or a combination of both – WE have lost respect and tolerance for one another.

WE, the collective we, have lost the skills and art to effectively communicate.  It is generally believed and written by that there are seven C’s of communication:

  1. Completeness

  2. Concreteness

  3. Courtesy

  4. Correctness

  5. Clarity

  6. Consideration

  7. Conciseness

It is important that we understand how essential the third C of communication, Courtesy, truly is.  Courtesy is defined as “the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others.”  So, where has courtesy gone?  Why do so many believe that it is acceptable to treat others with such contempt or outright disdain?  In my opinion, the use and often misuse of technology is one of the contributing factors in our overall lack of empathy and compassion for others.  Non-face to face, immediately distributed, methods of communication such as, texting, social media, tweeting, emails and other similar electronic forms of sharing thoughts and ideas have desensitized our population.  The lack of face-to-face interaction removes the interpersonal elements of human contact.  If society continues, as I believe it should and will, to engage in electronic methods of communications then we should employ the core fundamental values, of respect, tolerance and courtesy. We have experienced and are experiencing the decline in the exercise of these values in our everyday deportment with others.  Because of the increased use of technology which, by its design, is intended to expedite communication, has unintentionally produced an environment that does not support these values.  If one is not physically present to see the impact of a text, tweet or an email, if one is not physically present to interpret the body language and other non-verbal ques of another, and if one is not offered the opportunity to respectfully, with tolerance and courtesy engage in oral or written dialogue then the communication falls short of a true conversation.  Often, it is the intent of the sender not to engage with the recipient – but to simply make a statement and move on leaving the recipient in the rear-view mirror - or worse, continuing to communicate and persist in exemplifying disrespectful, discourteous, and intolerant behavior.

Many in our society have become very polarizing and consequently, we have become polarized. It appears that we have either voluntarily retreated to or involuntarily been forced to our “safe corners,” which most likely include social media, television, radio, podcasts, friends, groups, and associations that largely support the positions and points of view that we are most comfortable. This in itself, is polarizing. 

If it is our intent to “be the change that you wish to see in the world” as quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, then it is incumbent upon each of us to start Talking and Not Texting.  A wise gentleman once told me ten words that had a profound impact on my outlook on engagement, “if it is to be, it is up to me.” This can be amended to be pertinent to this discussion “if it is to be, it is up to US.” 

“US”, the collective us, should invest in good conversation. One that respects, tolerates and demonstrates courtesy to all, for all opinions, for all beliefs, for all perspectives. If we want a better tomorrow, it starts with “US”, it starts by “talking” and it must start today.

-State Representative David Greenspan, 16th Ohio House District

Guest Column:  It’s Time….It’s Time to Unite

Respect and tolerance, two qualities, two characteristics that have been put on hold or just simply forgotten.

Respect is explained as the regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

Tolerance is described as the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular, the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

At some point in our past, recent or long ago – or a combination of both – WE have lost respect and tolerance for one another, our community, our state and our nation.

We are a nation built on the belief as outlined in the preamble of the United States Constitution that says “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare…” It cannot be overlooked, that many in our Union feel that these goals and objectives, the expressions of our founding fathers, have not been realized. And out of respect and tolerance, all voices should be heard. And out of respect and tolerance, we have an obligation to all to be heard. And out of respect and tolerance for each other – all people – all Americans, we should work together to live up to the preamble of our Constitution and its expression to form a “more perfect Union.”

Forming a “more perfect Union” is aspirational. Forming a “more perfect Union” is the goal – it is the ideal we should always strive to achieve. But we must be realistic, the term “perfect” will never be realized. For it is this word “perfect” that by design, and I would have to believe the founders of our great nation, skillfully and carefully selected to keep us ever striving for that which is noblest and best. Let us be clear, we will never achieve perfection – I don’t believe that our founding fathers ever expected us to reach perfection, but they did demand that we continue to ever seek its luster.

We often describe ourselves the “melting pot” of the world. That too comes with its own responsibilities – rooted in the objectives outlined in the Constitution – “to form a more perfect Union.” When our nation began its expansion centuries ago WE put out the call to the world as best articulated in the motto of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” What is that golden door – what is inside? Fundamentally, it can best be summarized into one word “opportunity.” And somewhere along the way, “opportunity” is not believed to be an achievable goal for some. We have forgotten, either selectively or by design, that we are a nation built by people of different temperaments, talents and convictions – all of which needs to be supported by respect and tolerance.

We have forgotten, that the first amendment of OUR Constitution demands that we show respect and tolerance – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …”

One of the most important elements of the first amendment clearly states, “or abridging the freedom of speech.” So, what does this mean? To me, it means that one has the right to share their opinions and thoughts without fear of reprisal. To me, it means that each person’s speech is important and it should be heard. To me, it means that although I may or may not agree with your speech – that it should be heard. To me, it also means that the use of speech should be respected and tolerated.

As a young boy growing up in New Jersey, my grandmother instilled in me the qualities of respect, tolerance and belief that all people are created equally and should be treated fairly. I have embodied this concept in my daily interaction with others. I believe in leading by example – striving to be respectful and tolerant to all.

So where do we go from here? Now is the time to unite. The big question is how do we get there? For this purpose, I would ask all of us to take a day, 24 hours, – “A Day of Respect and Tolerance” to contemplate how we can all unite as one, striving for the “perfect union” realizing we will not get there divided – but wherever we land together, striving for what is noblest and best because tomorrow must be better than where we are today.

 – State Representative Dave Greenspan, 16th Ohio House District



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