Source: The Tennesseean

This article was written by Gary Dodd, NP, a provider at our Cedar Recovery Lebanon location. We are proud to showcase the work of great employees like Gary.

This was published in The Tennesseean. We would like to thank David Plazas, Opinion and Engagement Director for the USA TODAY Network newsrooms in Tennessee and The Tennessean, who kindly chose to publish this opinion-editorial. 

Francis Bellamy penned the original words of The Pledge of Allegiance in August 1892, still in the shadow of the Civil War. His was a call for loyalty and allegiance in America.

Our country is in societal and political turmoil as answers are sought for inequities and social injustice. So, I have been considering actions a person might take to help rectify the situation that confronts us. May I suggest some potential responses to our crisis?

Select your representatives

If freedom and the pursuit of forming a more perfect union is not your job or mine, whose job is it?

As President Abraham Lincoln emphasized in his Gettysburg Address and as The Pledge of Allegiance affirms, our Republic is of, by and for the people.

As citizens of the U.S., we can elect a representative government to preserve the liberties of all people to live without feeling threatened when they leave their residences and to make sure that all people are treated fairly. So, vote.

Show respect for others

All of us have ethical responsibilities that should guide how we interact with each other. We should seek to promote the common good for all individuals. We should never act intentionally or unintentionally to harm others. Our actions should be guided by the principle of justice. Disparities do exist among us and should be addressed through the lenses of fairness and equity toward all people.

We need to act with fidelity in promoting legislation and amendments to laws with respect for the liberties of all people as well as their welfare. We should accept accountability for our actions and, where the laws of our country allow, we should respect the self-determination of others. We need to speak truth to each other as we seek unity.

Empathize with others

We should not seek to elevate ourselves over others but to empathize with others. We should listen to and love each other. With respect to each person’s journey, we should acknowledge how environments influence who we become and the actions that we take.

As we become better acquainted, we can grow in our understanding of our conduct, choices, and commitments and of what we cherish. Instead of looking down on others, we should consider ways to lift up each other. We have to take the time to hear what others are saying.

Share your beliefs

People tend to respond positively to those who are generous and courteous in their actions toward them. People will examine your heart and actions and be able to discern if you really care about them. We can express what we believe in a kind manner.

The purpose of sharing your beliefs is not to win a debate, but to pursue understanding and unity toward common goals on which agreement can be reached.

Seek peace and support each other

It is my duty to be considerate of every person living in the United States. Authorities on the federal, state, and local level may not always be right, but they need to be respected when they genuinely and legally seek to fulfill their responsibilities. History presents us with the opportunity of learning what has led to division and should compel us to correct the courses of relationships with each other. We need to provide a better future for our country. We can shape our generation and those generations that will follow us.

Building a stronger and more united America will not be without its challenges. We need less repression and more freedom of expression. Random acts of violence need to be replaced with random acts of kindness. As we seek peace and support each other, we need the reminder that it is never wrong to do what is right.

Gary Dodd, APN, Nurse Practitioner
Nurse Practitioner

Gary Dodd works as an adult nurse practitioner in the fields of palliative care and opioid recovery.