For years when the mayor and I have met on the first and third Monday of each month, several topics have been explored, questions have been asked, ideas have been bandied about, books have been discussed, and prayers have been prayed. This, the last interview of 2020, (which has been the strangest year ever) was no exception.
We spent a good chunk of time acknowledging the fact that people have earned the right to be confused about many things in our culture right now. Experts who are touted as the expert in their field, and sport letters after their names, have made conflicting statements. Mayor Ronnie had just been on a call with Governor Ivey and the Task Force on COVID-19 about the recently released vaccine. “She understands that people need to build trust,” he said, and then he added, “When it becomes available, do for you and for your family what you feel is right.” We talked about the famous scene in Fiddler On The Roof when Reb Tevye sings his way through a difficult decision re: his family, and says, “On the one hand…on the other hand.” We also talked about the fact that many people are struggling with depression, and he said, “We have got to strengthen our community, and there is only one way to make that happen. We are strengthened from above, and we’ve got to keep working together to keep what we have built. I don’t want to see us go backwards, and I know from experience that it can happen fast.”
While the conversation was understandably sobering, by contrast it was a joy to talk about the power of celebrating and the deep need to do so. “We need to celebrate, and we have much to celebrate,” Mayor Ronnie said. If there is one thing that has been true of 2020, it is that people have been creative and clever with the ways they have found to celebrate weddings, proms, graduations, birthdays, and more in spite of the pandemic. We talked about our next book, and how much we are looking forward to reading it and sharing its wisdom with Athens and beyond.
The book is called Friday Forward: Inspiration & Motivation to End Your Week Stronger Than It Started. It came out in September of this year, and is written by Robert Glazer. He has written for Forbes, Success Magazine, Harvard Business Review, and more. Yearly, Glazer is read by more than five million people, and he is well known for challenging as well as helping people to be their best. The book has gotten great reviews, and I laughed as I thought of the prospect of actually learning how to end my week stronger than it had begun. It is going to be a chewy read for sure, and I am looking forward to it.
We always pray, as you well know, and to have the freedom still to seek God together in the public square is not something to take for granted. So, we prayed, blessed each other in this holiday season, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner