By Alisher Aminov
The most significant challenge our community faces today is a rise in political, social, and cultural tensions. These tensions have affected our ability to trust and communicate shared goals and caused conflicts between neighbors. When we are unable or unwilling to listen to one another and hear each other out, we cannot tackle issues or problems we face as a community. This separation keeps us from creating solutions and working towards them and prevents us from envisioning a more prosperous future.
Lebanon needs a unified community identity. Only through a unified identity can we have disagreements while still recognizing that we are all the same people — a collection of neighbors who are doing life together, who share the dream of a community where we all have value and the ability to thrive, where everyone feels safe and can prosper.
So often today, the concept of community is corrupted by culture and class, and opposing political and social groups have replaced our identification as people. We can see that through the polarization we are currently experiencing, which keeps us from uniting behind a common cause — building the community of Lebanon.
Some may argue that trying to unify the people of Lebanon is an impossible dream. Still, it has been done before through equally or even more challenging times. Unity does not mean we all think and act the same, nor does it mean we all have to speak the same language. Instead, we must unite behind a shared vision that celebrates the unique patchwork of identities each individual, group, and nationality brings to our city, county, and lives. Change must begin by everyone fulfilling a role and laying a vision for a community where we are all better when everyone in our community thrives.
Our city’s motto is “Lebanon is the place to grow.” I believe that is because Lebanon County is The Cornerstone of the Keystone State. Lebanon is unique in that we are a bridge between many of Pennsylvania’s largest cities and travel destinations. Not only do we have easy access to major cities in PA, but New York State, New England, and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. Our location means that we have enormous potential as a city if only we would come together as a community and grow with the times.
Ultimately, the right step forward would be to create a foundation to acknowledge each other peaceably. We need to recognize that while we have different ideas and opinions, we are all neighbors in this community, after all. Only then will policy become a matter of the right solution and not of a dividing cause.