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Feeling Hopeless? Put in an application

October 14, 2016

Feeling hopeless about our country? Dallas Police Chief David Brown says, “Put in an application.”

I am lucky to live in Dallas, a city that doesn’t sit idly by for very long when it sees an opportunity to really get something done. Dallas is vibrant and bold, a direct reflection of its people. Our city reluctantly hit the world stage July 7 when five of our police officer citizens were brutally gunned down, and I became one of millions that hung on Dallas Police Chief David Brown’s words every time he opened his mouth in the weeks following the event. His forthright and heartfelt responses to media Q&A provided a sense of calm as he tried to make sense of the events and how we can heal. When asked what we can do as a city to support the police, he simply responded, “Put in an application.”

I am proud and often humbled to be on the Board of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas (UWMD), which strives to change lives forever in North Texas. I was proud and amazed when the UWMD team and some fast-acting volunteers mobilized our corporate partners to establish and fund the Unite Dallas Relief Fund, which will be used to support the police and to help heal race relations in our community. The group has raised over $1M in corporate and individual “text to give” dollars. This is exactly what Dallas tends to do – pulls in the best of the city to turn an ugly problem into a possible solution.

Chief Brown retired last week, despite best efforts by citizens trying to persuade him to stay. As part of his farewell tour, he attended a UWMD Board meeting to say thanks for establishing the Unite Dallas Relief Fund. Chief Brown acknowledged the damage that our city’s racial divide continues to inflict, and he respected the right we have as Americans in a free and democratic society to protest. But he also specifically thanked us for taking action that could help the city heal.

We asked him what else we could do.

He reiterated his headline making request: Put in an application. But this time, he meant more.

As we inch closer every day to a national election in which the majority of people will be voting against the other candidate as opposed to voting for their candidate, it is easy to get discouraged about the state of the US. Coupled with civil unrest, and a lack of trust for many national institutions, including Congress and the media, many people have started to wonder, “What should we do about this?”

Chief Brown’s original request was for more people to join his police force. (He then successfully lobbied for higher wages for the force.) But now his request is bigger. Chief Brown wants us all to put in an application somewhere, anywhere, that we can help our fellow man. Instead of being against “them” - which is different for all of us, or focusing on the demise of the country, what if you choose to be part of what’s right about our country? We are a great philanthropic country, with a foundation in a massive volunteer army called Americans.

What if you volunteered at the food bank? Or coached your daughter’s volleyball team? Or donated coats and blankets to the homeless? What if you offered to help a neighbor with their yard? Or read to kids at the local school? What if you decided to help one other person once a week, or - dare I say - as part of a daily routine?

To whom much is given, much is expected. We have been given a great country, and we should all expect to be part of the solution to protect her.

Where will you put in an application?