Starting with hello
Posted on 8 Apr 2011 by Marc Gustafson
Instead of staring at the ground, the dog, space, the trees, the grass, a Blackberry or nothing at all, what if we looked at each other and just said hello? This thought has crossed my mind as I’ve walked, run, and ridden around Charlotte.
You see, I grew up in a small town where everyone waved. It’s just what you did. What I still do today. So the irony is never lost on me when, in a place where we’re known for our hospitality, we don’t bother to say hello.
It’s what we share in these short greetings – the acknowledgment of the common experience — that connects us as runners, dog walkers, bus riders, car drivers, cyclists, and people. These seemingly inconsequential exchanges create the kinds of attachments that bind us to one another, create trust, foster pride and make us citizens and not residents of this beautiful city.
This point was punctuated at a recent Diversity and Inclusion seminar hosted by the Arts & Science Council where one of the participants expressed her sense that, despite the perception of an open and inclusive city, Charlotteans don’t seem to trust each other.
We came, or in some cases returned, to Charlotte because of its opportunities. A blank canvas on which to create, refine or renew ourselves.
We built new buildings, stylish museums, grand homes, and smooth roads, but we can’t build community until we say hello. This doesn’t mean we have to be friends, that will come, but we could start with a simple greeting, a nod, a smile that in such a short time can express so much.
By saying hello we accept, do not fear, and care for each other. We start to overcome our fears, prejudices, biases, and preconceived notions. We become the place we are supposed to be.
So when you see me, say hello, give me a wink. I trust you.