I've been on the road a lot over the past month, visting both small towns and big cities. I have had the privilege of visiting some really interesting places and programs. I've visited a number of programs working to advance care delivery to underserved communities and populations.
One thing about my travels has really stuck out - a lot of people are deeply hurting. The divide between the rich and the economically struggling has never felt more profound. And, people are really suffering.
Just this morning I went for a run in Utica, New York - a mid-size city 6 hours northwest of Manhattan. The number of closed mills, shuttered homes and boarded-up businesses were heartbreaking. It felt like half the city had simply packed up one day and moved on - and those left behind were faced with piecing the remains together.
In the middle of all the economic fragility, the city has a burgeoning food scene with a number of high-end restaurants and interesting eateries. Amidst the derelict buildings and broken side walks was a whole city-within-a-city for people with means. It was hard to swallow.
One morning I went to coffee and encountered a gregarious and thriving crowd of young professionals. They talked about the food scene and asked me where I dined the night before. Compare this experience to a walk I took another evening. I walked down winding streets to a dystopian inner-city neighborhood. I walked past block-after-block of abandoned homes and broken down cars, people sitting on their dilapidated porches wearing sadness on their faces and empty in their eyes. A look that only comes from a truly difficult, disconnected life. My walk saddened me so much.
What has happened? When did things get so difficult? I'm not sure such questions can be answered in a simple narrative neatly folded into a blog post. Just like there is no easy answer to address how things got to this point, there is no one solution to the immense challenges facing the world. There's no "easy button" that will instantly make everything right. Rather, the challenges we are facing need complex, multifaceted solutions - solutions fortified by collaboration. The type of collaboration that brings groups together around a common, focused cause. The sort of collaboration that requires we set aside our differences of opinion and focus on our shared belief in one another. A collaboration that focuses on a better future for everyone.
I know we can do better. We owe it one another. Let's work together to build bridges so that everyone can find the opportunities they need to build the lives they deserve. Let's work together to build a future for everyone . . . everywhere.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.