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Dignity, respect and points of agreement

It has been almost three weeks since we returned from our Las Vegas conference.

We learned in a video message from the National Speakers Association chairperson last week, less than 10 people out of the 600-plus attendees, tested positive for COVID following the conference. We weren’t told if they likely had it before the conference or picked it up while in Las Vegas. We learned it is possible to have large conferences safely and protect the attendees if proper protocols are in place.

Masks were not required. Some people still chose to wear them. The general session ball oom chairs were spaced out. It was nice having extra space and not sitting elbow to elbow. Lynnda and I could move our chairs and sit close together.

The name badges all had colored buttons on them. Red meant the person was uncomfortable with physical contact and preferred social distance. Many of the red button people wore masks. Yellow meant caution. They were uncomfortable with hugs or handshakes but were OK being in closer contact. Green was “Let’s get physical.” Hugs, handshakes and close contact were fine. All the “greens” I met were vaccinated, although they weren’t required to be.

The hotel staff wore masks. There were separate buffet lines requiring masks, for the red buttoned people. Tables for meals had six chairs instead of eight. Everyone treated each other with dignity, respect and honored the button they wore.

These are just a few of the protocols. NSA leadership had the courage to hold a live event while most were still virtual. They found a way to have a productive meeting and keep people safe. We left the conference with a lot of value. It was important to be able to meet face to face with our NSA friends most of whom we hadn’t seen in two years. Leadership and courage made it possible.

Leadership and courage show up in a lot of places. My neighbor works for the West Virginia Library Commission. She was taking a walk with her husband past our house. We were on the porch, she commented, “I didn’t know you wrote a newspaper column.” When I asked how she found out, I learned the Library Commission has services for the blind and print disabled. She told me a gentleman named Gary called her to ask why he hadn’t been able to listen to this column for two months.

From listening, Gary knew more about me, my history and my injury than my neighbor did. What is important, Gary’s call to the Library Commission discovered the link for the blind audio access to newspapers was down.

Because of Gary’s call the blind and print disabled can enjoy listening to newspapers again. Thanks, Gary!

Last Friday I had a business meeting planned in Pittsburgh. A foreign company is considering our region. Lynnda and I had dinner that evening with my brothers and their wives. We walked in on a lively discussion my brothers were having about the state of our country and the world. It was depressing. I know where they were coming from. I’m there too if spend a lot of time watching or listening to the cable news channels. It’s depressing because knowing the problem without being able to be part of a solution gives me a feeling of helplessness.

I don’t know what we can do as individuals to solve the riots in Europe, the border crisis or the Arab- Israeli conflict that is thousands of years old. It is the same reason I didn’t play the slot machines in Las Vegas. The odds are against me. Once I put money in the slot and push the button, I have no control of the outcome. The thought I shared with my brothers was to stick to those things we have some control over and do what we can to be part of the solution. Let the other stuff go. God will handle it in his way. That was the best hope I could give, along with spending less time on the internet and cable news channels. We don’t really know for certain what is true, what is embellished, slanted or plain false. We let go of the world’s problems and had a fun evening catching up and spending time with each other.

We can’t solve all of the world’s problems. We can do things to make the world better.

NSA leadership put on a conference to bring people together after two years apart due to COVID. We learned from each other. We encouraged each other. We helped each other. We shared. We listened. NSA did its part. As attendees we did ours.

Gary did his part by calling the Library Commission. My neighbor did her part by getting the link fixed so the blind and print disabled could again have access to newspapers.

We can choose to stand for integrity and truth. We can share our knowledge and expertise with others. We can help a friend, neighbor or even a stranger in need like my oldest son did on his way back to Maryland from our place. He got home four hours later than normal. Corey said, “Dad, it was the right thing to do.”

We can treat everyone with dignity and respect. We can listen to what they have to say. We can have a dialog instead of a shouting match. The major media and internet say we are polarized. We can choose to reject that. We’ve allowed small groups at both ends of the spectrum to lead us astray. Americans are more alike than different. Shale Crescent has been on radio shows with people having different political views. We always find points of agreement.

Shale Crescent USA learned a small nonprofit from the Mid-Ohio Valley can change the world. If we can’t change the world, we can always change our world. What if millions did that?

A thought to ponder.

Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com, is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a master’s in environmental engineering with over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. He is the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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