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Harker Heights Evening Star
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Building Bridges of Understanding

Building Bridges of Understanding

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Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D. AYA ENELI

My heart aches at the state of our world today. For all our technology, knowledge and wealth, the pain and suffering, the distrust and disdain, the fear and hate mongering and the massive economic inequalities in our world weigh me down.
I could inundate you with statistics and stories; statistics that speak to the growing sense of hopelessness in our nation and across the world. At the heart of the racial unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York and simmering in so many other parts of this nation is a history of economic exploitation of people of African descent, a refusal of this nation to admit its ills against this sector of its population and a refusal to in any tangible way mitigate the immense and systemic obstacles facing members of this group.
But our love affair with greed and depraved insensitivity to the basic needs of others is no longer limited to members of a particular racial group. Our congress has gone on record to oppose equal wages for women though the economic levels of women are so directly tied to the outcomes for their children. Who would have thought that in 2015 in the land of the free we would still be debating whether people should be paid livable wages, whether women should be compensated equally and whether we should adequately fund schools so that all children, no matter where they live, have access to a great education? Who would have thought that we could possibly justify the irrefutable evidence that African American males are more likely to be brutalized and killed by our law enforcers, a practice that dates back to slavery and certainly during the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan.
In 2014, Oxfam International released a new report called, “Working for the Few,” that contains some startling statistics on what it calls the “growing tide of inequality.” The report states:
Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population. The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world. Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012. In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
What can you and I do about this state of affairs? For one, we can start by building bridges of understanding. I have noted that we tend to gather with those we consider like-minded, and when we branch out to others we stick with the most benign of topics like the weather. But when was the last time you had a respectful heart to heart conversation with someone who may see things differently than you do? Note that I asked about a respectful conversation – an actual dialog where both listen with an open-mind and seek understanding and not just to convince the other that your view is the only right view.
When was the last time that in making a decision or a policy change, you actually sought out the opinions of all who could be impacted and really listened to their needs and concerns? This is how we build bridges and this is how we instill hope in people. This is how we demonstrate to people that they matter and that they can truly participate in our democracy as opposed to living on the fringes of society.
Oxfam calls on the leaders at the World Economic Forum to not dodge taxes in their countries or countries where they invest and operate, not use their economic wealth to seek political favors, and support progressive taxation on wealth and income, among other things.
It also quotes Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who said, ‘We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.’
If you are reading this, I challenge you to share this article. How can you as an individual and in your capacity in your community, church, business and so on be a builder of bridges of understanding. Our nation you not just as a spectator or as a commentator, but as one playing an active role to build understanding, harmony and prosperity for all. I wish you your abundant life.
Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, certified Christian Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential. She and her husband live in Central Texas with their five miraculous children. For more information, visit, follow her on twitter @ayaeneli or e-mail her at


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