The quality of our social interactions and relationships is fundamental to living a longer, healthier and happier life. How we are with each other matters. In the event of natural disasters, those who have neighbours they can count on are more likely to survive than those who don’t.
Every day we face a choice of how we want to live in Vancouver. Will we treat others with compassion or indifference? Will we show kindness to strangers? Will we have faith in the fundamental goodwill of others, even those who are quite different from us? These are important parts of building a connected and compassionate city; one in which everyone belongs and everyone prospers.
But this is not easy work, and it will require all of us. It means listening to those on the margins and finding ways to include them. It means getting serious about the opioid crisis and rethinking how people with serious health issues access safe drugs. It means de-stigmatizing people with mental health issues and recognizing that these are features of being human that shouldn’t prevent participation in, and contribution to, the life of community. And it means finding a way to close the historical wound with indigenous peoples; by resolving past injustices and seeking reconciliation by growing our collective unity, wisdom, prosperity and cultures.
While a municipality cannot simply mandate connectivity, safety or compassion, we can invest in the conditions that may make them more likely to occur, and we can address internal policies or practices that may impede them. Our role is to inspire and embolden community building, and to support the initiatives of citizens, associations, non-profits and businesses who care about their neighbourhoods and who want to make them places where everyone can flourish.