By: Natalie M. Zeigler
I have been thinking a lot lately about how our words affect others. What we say matters, and often we forget how our comments can have negative impacts on members of our shared community. I think it is important now – more than ever – to extend grace to others, even if we may have differing opinions.
Everyone wants to feel as though they are being heard, and in a community, it is critical that people have space to voice concerns and objections. It is equally necessary that sharing be reciprocated by listening. It goes both ways. Engaging in discussion can be very productive and help push Hartsville forward. However, excessively negative comments do not aid improvements to our city. Being respectful to one another establishes a sense of trust among residents and makes achieving common goals a lot easier.
Mutual respect has changed with advances in technology. In the climate of today’s world, our on-duty law enforcement officers are equipped with body-worn cameras while on patrol. This accountability measure not only ensures the safety of our officers but the citizens that they serve as well. Footage from these cameras have facilitated more positive communication in less than ideal situations involving the law in that all parties are able to replay the recording and see the reality of what happened. In these instances, negativity towards those who protect our city are able to be changed into a respectful dialogue of community needs.
A group of residents can make a positive impact with shared passions – like those who have raised funds and vocally supported the future of a Hartsville Dog Park. These individuals brought this project to the attention of City leadership, and a plan was put into action. This group has rallied together on social media and at other events raising over $4,000 for the project. While the project has more funds to be raised, others must join their voices in support to keep that momentum going.
I like to believe that the majority of people are trying to do their best every day. I try to focus on what brings people together: a need for safety and the desire for joy and comfort. I want to work to provide these things for others, and I hope everyone in our community might be encouraged to do the same. It takes showing kindness and empathy for others, by sharing and then listening with an open mind.
Natalie Zeigler is the City Manager of Hartsville. For more information, call City Hall at 843-383-3015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.