Needless to say, 2020 has been history in the making. Some things however have gone a little unnoticed.
A series of new banners appeared atop Glover Street’s solar light posts recently. At first glance, the BEE banners depict an natural theme emblematic of our local beekeeping community. One might glance up and regard them as place markers. They infer characteristics of bees like cooperation, nature, hard work and sweet rewards. However, they are inconspicuous, subtle reminders of the current state of affairs.
The BEE banners stand for much more. They are an acronym for “Be Empathetic to Everyone.” The banners were created in response to the COVID pandemic to show support for local businesses and essential workers.
In the earlier days of lockdown, before the Governor’s Safe Start Plan, businesses were asked to implement safety guidelines with no clear mandates. They tried their best to survive and implement safety measures for their customers, limiting their own exposure, the health and safety of their employees, and the public. These responses were not always welcomed by patrons whose initial response to these efforts to address the pandemic were accompanied by hostility. For some it was too much, for others it was not enough. Many business owners felt, “darned if you do, darned if you don’t.”
Twisp Chamber of Commerce representatives and town officials met to discuss the challenges businesses were facing. Meanwhile, social disintegration was occurring across the nation’s urban’s areas as Black Lives Matter protests turned violent among clashes with the police. As a nation on the brink of anarchy, amidst a polarized election, Twisp responded with a plug for empathy and the BEE campaign began.
As a collaborative effort between the Chamber of Commerce and town, with creative inspiration from artists Donna Keyser and Bailey Peplow, the BEE campaign reminds us all to set our own feelings aside for a moment and think of other’s point of view. Empathy is roughly defined as, “having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have, or to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, to place oneself in another’s position.” It is no easy task.
To recognize someone’s personal situation informs their beliefs and actions, even if you don’t hold them to be true for yourself, and still care for them, is the essence of empathy. Empathy is nothing new. We have all heard the saying, “walk a mile in another’s shoes.” The Bible points to empathy in Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
Empathy is the foundation of respect and trust. Good leaders therefore must possess it and practice it because you can’t lead a diverse group of individuals without considering various perspectives. Furthermore, trust is earned through consistency, experience and integrity. Trust is the foundation of love in any relationship, and without it, chaos and dysfunction ensue. The banners are simple reminder for everyone to BEE. If we can all BEE, we can be a community and a nation with respect, trust, and love for one another and chaos and dysfunction can be one for the 2020 history books.