Monday, May 23

All You Need Is Love

Last week, I had the good fortune to attend my friend Hal’s graduation from the Alexandria Police Academy.  Police Chief Cook gave an inspiring talk at the gathering about how our police strive to represent us with professionalism and care.  His theme was that we don’t have to engage with one another out of distrust—the root of much of the national conversation.  His brief talk was peppered with the word, “Love.”

As a college student, I was given the assignment on the first day of an education course to return the next week with my philosophy of education.  I spent the weekend painting a large banner with Peter Max-like figures dancing around The Beatles’ lyrics, “All You Need Is Love.”  It hung in the Michigan School of Education for many years, giving me and others ample opportunity to reflect on our beliefs about effective education. When I was interviewed about it years later,  I said that my years teaching at-risk kids had led me to conclude that love might not be the only thing needed, but it’s a great place to start.

Chief Cook’s comments last week served as a reminder that love is a great place to begin any relationship.  I am convinced that those who see the glass half empty and bring suspicions or doubts to every interaction are no happier than I am.  And I see the applicability of the approach not only to teaching and policing, but to every walk of life. 

Chief Cook noted that the Alexandria police may not be perfect, but they are always striving to do better.  He asserted that he and the Department welcome difficult feedback and open dialogue in their effort to serve our citizens better.  Those who know and have worked with me know how I share his dedication to continuous improvement. 

Last week’s ceremony reminded me how grateful I am to be a member of a vibrant community where diversity works and is not just a slogan.  I was inspired by the diversity of the Academy graduates, their friends and families, and how comfortably we interacted with one another that night.  All organizations are diverse communities, just as our City is, and would benefit from authentically honoring diversity and tackling obstacles to unity.

Thanks to Hal for inviting his friends to his graduation.  Thanks to Chief Cook for his positive message.  And thanks to a community that respectfully engages all of its members in decisions that affect them.

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