Growing up in this city, I saw great people doing amazing things. In 1995, I stood with my fellow Oklahomans and helped children and families in the wake of the Murrah Building bombing. I saw the nation and world recognize us as a model for loving community, calling our shared sense of ethic “The Oklahoma Standard.”
My great city is also a place where the poor are sometimes blamed for being poor, immigrants are blamed for problems they did not create, violence against women and children is minimized, fellow humans are marginalized because of their sexuality, gender, or country of origin. There is this tension: we are close, and loving, the ideal place to belong in many ways, and yet we have this other side that keeps us from being as great as we could be.
I believe, to reach our true potential, we must get a little uncomfortable, admit places where our collective nature is divided, and pick a strategy to move forward. There is an old but simple rule, “treat others as you would have them treat you.” It is found in almost every culture and religion on our planet. What if we – all – committed to following it? Living out this rule would not be easy; it would not eliminate all of our problems, but imagine our potential!
I would like to call those who live here and have similar goals to be a part of the Common Ground Community. It is not a sect or a set of requirements, but rather a shared space between people, and everyone is welcome. It is only a commitment to following The Golden Rule: Work diligently to honor and respect each human. Go to places filled with people different from you and get to know them. Serve those you haven’t served before. You do not have to believe the way someone else does to honor their true worth as a human, which is infinite, just as yours is. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do this alone. Join us, and we’ll go forward together.
Look for more in the future. If you like this, share, and start the conversation. I’m proud to be from Oklahoma City. Ours is a beautiful city, and with true fellowship across our differences, it can be the greatest city.
Noel J. Jacobs, Ph.D.
Program Director, The Respect Diversity Foundation
Developer, The Common Ground Community of Oklahoma