Seeking to understand

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeff Edwards
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

Team Kingsley,

The past few weeks has been a difficult time for us.  The death of George Floyd shocked the Nation, and many people feel angry, frustrated, and hurt.  As a family and as a team, we need to reflect on what we can do at Kingsley Field to eliminate racism and racial bias.

The Chief of Staff and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force recently put together a 6-minute video.  It highlights the importance of seeking to understand and having a challenging conversation about race.  I ask you to please take time to watch this video:

We need to seek to understand each other - by listening to each other and engaging in these challenging conversations.  We need to have empathy - by realizing that we should listen more than we talk, and by trying to understand the perspectives of others and why they feel the way they do.  We need to have dignity and respect for all - racism and racial bias are unacceptable. 

The following checklist developed by our Resiliency Team is a great resource for all of us:

What can you do today?

It is normal and understandable to feel an array of feelings, including a lack of hope and uncertainty in knowing where to go from here.  The following are some things to keep in mind:

1) Do not dismiss your feelings or the feelings of others.  They are valid and important to acknowledge.

2) Express your feelings by talking with family, friends, and others in your support system.  Don’t suffer alone.  Talking to someone you trust helps, even if you don’t understand your own feelings.

3) Stay informed, but turn off the television, radio, or social media when you need a break from coverage.  Know your body’s signals for information overload, i.e., headaches, crying, exhaustion, etc. 

4) Listen.  Many people have different viewpoints, professional experiences, and life experiences.  It is important to balance talking with listening, but know your limits.  If it becomes too much, it’s okay to walk away.

5) Keep Comprehensive Airman Fitness pillars in mind:  social, mental, physical, and spiritual.  Remember to exercise, eat and stay hydrated.  Keep your mind occupied with an array of activities like reading, music, or puzzles.  Breathe.  Meditate.  Pray.

6) Look for kindness; if you cannot find it, then create it.

Often times we look to our commanders and supervisors for answers and solutions based upon their years of experience and maturity.  I am here to tell you that we do not always have the solutions.  We struggle with these difficult topics just like everyone else, and we support each other in times of need.  As we face these challenges together, it is important that we grow together as a family - to learn and understand.   

As members of the Oregon Air National Guard, we support our communities through good times and bad.  As members of the Air National Guard and the Air Force, we represent our State and Nation.  Our Airmen reflect the diversity of our great Nation.  We each see current events through the lens of our diverse backgrounds.  We each have strong feelings and deep convictions.  And while we may disagree on some points, we will always treat each other with dignity and respect.  We will always remain faithful to our core values--integrity, service, and excellence.   

I am very proud of all the men and women at the 173rd Fighter Wing, and I am grateful to be on your team.  During this challenging time, let’s unite as a team to accept Gen Goldfein and Chief Wright’s challenge.  Let’s have a conversation, and let’s make a difference.  I ask you to please take time this weekend and in the coming weeks to have a conversation with your teammates and share your thoughts.  Let’s be good listeners and seek to understand.  Let’s grow from this and ensure that we do all we can to eliminate racism and racial bias.  We have a great team, and I know we can do this.  Our State and Nation look to us to set the example, and we will.