City Manager's Blog

Learn about the City of Roanoke from the City Manager's point of view.

View All Posts

Dec 03

Humanity First

Posted on December 3, 2018 at 9:45 AM by Whitney Slightham

I had two occasions this past weekend to observe a positive aspect of politics.  The first, the lessons learned in association with the passing of President George H.W. Bush.  The second, the passing of a beloved grandmother of a City Council member and the support provided by her fellow Council Members.  Both of these highlighted how much better we are when we place our humanity first.

A Genuine Guy

Living in College Station, Texas for more than six years afforded me the opportunity to see George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush a time or two–though the first time I met Mr. Bush was many years ago at a campaign rally in St Louis when he was running for President. Yes, I got to hear the “read my lips” pledge in person.   In College Station, I got to see the colorful socks, the grace he and Mrs. Bush showed, and their charity toward others.  It was because of these actions—their humanity—they are so beloved in their adopted hometown in Texas.  

Mr. Bush’s character was also demonstrated through a small gesture, the letter that he sent to his successor, genuinely wishing the best for him and the country. The authentic care and friendship he established with Mr. Clinton illustrated his integrity, a trait shared by his son and shown by his enduring friendship with Michelle Obama.  All of these examples illustrate that our humanity can overcome differences and divides, a belief that, sadly, is in all too short supply these days.

A Beloved Grandmother 

A bit closer to home, a Council Member lost her grandmother over the weekend.  Hers was a life exceeding a century and she was surrounded by family—both things most of us can only hope for.  Upon learning of the loss, fellow Council members quickly sent notes of condolence, support, and care.  Most significantly, these notes illustrated that the Council members actually know and care for one another.  They knew of the full life she had lived and how important she had been in this Council person’s life. A couple of the Council members actually had the opportunity to meet the grandmother in person.  Their concern was genuine and authentic, and for that, we are all richer, that people of their character are leading our community.

A Group Dedicated to Celebrating What We Have in Common

These are but two examples that highlight how much more we can be when we move past the rhetoric, look past the ideology, and see the person—the fellow human being— who is before us.  There is a group of religious leaders and citizens who meet every Thursday between now and Christmas to explore just this.  They have come together—community members with Jewish, Christian, and Muslim beliefs—to highlight and explore the humanity we have in common and how, when we remember that first, we are stronger for it.  I had the opportunity to join the group last week and hope to do so for the remaining three Thursdays.  I encourage you to consider doing the same on Thursdays at 6 p.m. at Highland Park Elementary School.

Especially during this Holiday season, let’s pay attention more on what we have in common and less of what separates us, and let’s all continue to know one another more, care for one another better, and make our neighborhoods, our City, and our Country as great as it can possibly be.

- Bob Cowell


You must log in before leaving your comment