I have to say the past month or so have been a stark reminder to me why we should consider ourselves fortunate to live where we live.

Let me expand a bit on that thought. While the awful, horrible events recently in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Houston and Mexico come to mind right away, I’m also referring to the divisions that seem to be the order of the day in our nation. Natural disasters are at least understandable and we know that those are inevitable. The human-caused disasters are harder for us to understand, and in fact, I guess it’s good if you and I can’t understand them.

But again, beyond those obvious tragedies I’m thinking more today about the ongoing trend of division. I would suggest that many have forgotten “one nation, indivisible” and there is real danger in that.

First, let me say that this is not a political statement in any way, because I really think what we observe today in our nation is much deeper than a political party. This seems to be a more systemic desire on the part of many to separate themselves from their neighbors, to always look for differences instead of commonalities.

Now let me suggest that what we experience here continues to be different than that. Let me offer this week as an illustration of my point. Monday was a Diversity Summit on the CCC-Columbus campus. Speakers talked about how to best work and interact with people from diverse age groups and cultural backgrounds. They gave great insight into how to pull teams together, how to celebrate differences as strengths instead of weaknesses. People who were born in different times and in different places spent half a day to better understand how to work with each other.

Example No. 2 comes this weekend, as the chamber and Columbus Community Center come together to host Taste of Columbus. Over 17 years Taste of Columbus has grown into a wonderful community celebration. We celebrate great food and drink, celebrate good work being done by the partner organizations, but also meet and mingle with our neighbors and celebrate the community we share.

Yes, I understand that planning a community event isn’t the same as figuring out immigration reform or health care. I get that. But I would submit that the spirit of mutual benefit, trust, putting the big picture ahead of self-interest, and collaboration for the greater good do, in fact, translate across those issues very nicely. If those traits were applied to those bigger issues as they are to local events, I’m quite confident we’d be in a better place in our national dialogue.

So, while it would be easy to get pretty discouraged watching the news these days, I’m going to focus on all the good that’s happening around here and I’d encourage you to do the same. I’m going to celebrate the fact that Columbus is a place that values collaboration and engages diverse opinions, and I’m going to be grateful that this hometown has raised many of us to do the same.

And hey, if you want live out that spirit by enjoying some wonderful food and drink together at Taste of Columbus, then I invite you to grab a ticket from the chamber office and come to Ramada on Sunday afternoon. We’ll be there celebrating all that’s best about Columbus, coming together for a wonderful evening, and maybe just taking a break from all the divisiveness for a few hours.

K.C. Belitz is president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.


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