GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: Words Count

Richard Haggerty | January 2018

Last year in my December column I wrote about diversity. I also included this sentence in my introductory paragraph. “In the 50-plus years since Dr. King’s assassination we have certainly made progress in improving race relations and creating economic opportunities for all of our citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity. However, all we have to do is look at the daily news headlines to recognize that we still have a very long way to go.” I have to admit, reading that sentence in light of some of the recent headlines coming out of Washington, it seems like we are starting to tread backwards. We can’t allow that to happen.

First, I’d like to make the argument as emphatically as I can that words count. How we communicate with each other is vitally important. The tone that we set and the respect that we show each other when we communicate matters deeply. Many of the individuals who I follow on social media posted notable quotes from Martin Luther King in honor of MLK Day last week. Here are some of my favorites:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

These words have power. They convey hope and truth and responsibility. These words make a difference. These words don’t drag us down in the muck as many of the political headlines currently do. These words don’t deflate us the way that some of the divisive and often anonymous comments we so often see in social media. These words elevate us. They express the tone and respect we must strive for in our daily communications with each other.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, but we still have a long way to go. We must continue to embrace diversity as the strength of the Realtor organization. As I concluded my column last year, I will do so again this year. We must be respectful of other people’s points of view and welcome new ideas and perspectives. That is how we will continue to grow and improve this association; embracing diversity, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment and respecting the many voices of our membership.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO