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30 Oct, 2018   |   

It’s Up to Us

Post from Up with People President & CEO Dale Penny

Enough! It is time for action to build respect, civility, trust…and perhaps to find some common ground and unity. None of us should be proud of the way much of our society has become divided, disrespectful and even fearful of those “others” who may look, worship, believe, live or simply vote differently. Our social fabric seems to be stretched to the point of shredding and recent tragedies leave us grasping for answers. 

Sadly, too many of those on whom we should depend for leadership are not helping find those answers. It is up to us, the people of all political parties, ethnic groups, faiths and backgrounds to take positive action to reduce the climate of disrespect, refuse to accept dehumanizing and hateful language and bring us together as a society.

Let’s face it, that won’t be easy. Most of us hold our beliefs and opinions for legitimate reasons based on our experiences. For the good of our society, however, we must not allow ourselves to see those whose opinions or beliefs differ from our own to be seen as the enemy. Having opposing views does not give you, me or anyone the right to insult, belittle or commit hateful acts against those with whom we disagree. 

Most of our home countries are increasingly diverse places. That will not change. With historically high numbers of transient populations many of our nations will continue to become more multi-cultural with each generation. The reality is that the future will not be built only by those who are like “us” or with whom we always agree. Our future will only be built by learning to accept, listen, learn, share with and find common ground with those “others.”  

What can we do? Let’s start by expecting greater respect and civility from ourselves, each other and our leaders and by taking action to change the political and social climate. I’m not talking about a simplistic “just sing Kumbaya and we’ll all be friends” solution. It will take making commitments to do the hard work of building understanding, empathy and trust. Let me propose a few steps to start with:

  • Accept that others have as much right to their opinion as we do.
  • Respect the values, beliefs, lifestyle and opinions of others as much as we expect them to respect ours.
  • Assume goodwill on their part until they prove otherwise.
  • Assume that they have come to their point of view partially through rational reasoning and partially through irrational emotion…exactly the combination which has led us to our viewpoint.
  • Start by listening to understand their side. Be open to the idea that their opinions may be valid.
  • State our opinions without demeaning the other side personally.
  • Focus on those areas of agreement rather than looking for what divides us.
  • When we find ourselves being dragged into the mud, stop, take a deep breath and start fresh at the top.


This is not, of course, a magic solution, and by practicing these basic concepts we may or may not reach agreement. But both sides can walk away feeling respected and valued as fellow members of the human family.  Does this seem “doable”? If not, then we are destined to continue on the path of tribalism, fear, ugliness and division. But if it does, then let’s try it.

The upcoming holiday season gives us an opportunity with our families and friends with whom we may or may not agree. Just start with intentionally practicing civil and respectful discussions with those we love. Maybe, just maybe, we can all have more joyous and less stressful holidays and we can start the new year feeling a little bit better about ourselves, each other, our social framework and our future together. Who knows how it might spread and what good might come from it? It is up to us!

“It begins with us, will you stand with us?
The moment is here and now
It begins with us, it won’t end with us!
The moment is moving on.”
It Begins With Us© Up with People

29 Replies to “It’s Up to Us”

  1. Thank you, Dale…. I have always shared the words from Roads in ’72 : Everyone is partly right, and everyone is partly wrong…. from where he stands there’s another view.
    I pray our work will spread and some enormous semblance of humanity will finally catch on soon… Let’s just keep the bus rollin’!!

  2. Marcia, those words hold true. We must learn to listen and learn as much as we speak. Humanity is the key. Cherrelyn, C83

  3. So appreciative of your words, and we agree! Let’s work together on limiting the separation on this social divide and create more civility within our world!

  4. Thank you Dale for these inspiring words. UWP is relevant and needed more now than ever before,

  5. Thank you, Dale. Your message helps us all to refocus on the true UWP spirit. “You and I are different from our brother. Could that be why we need each other as we go along?”

  6. Thanks, Dale. I have been drawn in recent days the Rudyard Kipling’s “If”. If you are unfamiliar with the poem, I HIGHLY recommend you read and contemplate the Truths contained within its words. Keep up the good works, Dale.

  7. Thanks Dale for spurring us on! There are thousands of alumni sprinkled about our Global Community. Think of the change we can be in our world….like a ripple effect from continent to continent. I was challenged by the lyrics in the song above…. It’s Up to Us. “If we wanna be the change, gotta do more than just say it”. Not sure yet what that means for me but I want to ponder and pray where to start and I challenge fellow alumni to do the same. May God wrap His compassionate arms around those touched by the tragedy in Philadelphia and the entire Jewish community.

  8. Extremely well stated! Thanks much Dale. As Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We can’t depend on anyone but ourselves to change attitudes. All of us UWP alums are leaders to some extent, in our own communities, so it starts with us, and “us” truly means every single person in this country. I intend to share your thoughts with others. Would you mind if I submit your posting, in its entirety or even partly with appropriate credit given, as an Op-Ed in our Montana newspapers?

    • Thank you, Cindy, for your reply and question. Certainly, it would be an honor if this were to run in your paper. I agree with you that our alumni are playing leadership roles their communities/countries in so many ways, and now is a moment for our collective voice to be heard. Thank you.

  9. I see the world without any borders, without any fighting, without any fear …..the problem is not making something great again, , it is : how can I feel home, wherever I go ….

  10. Amen Dale!! Thank you for your mindful thoughts and words! I too believe that in a political culture with so many different thoughts and belief’s, I can still respect and love those from all angles of the spectrum.
    UWP has been one of my most cherished experiences and has helped to shape the person I am today. Blessings!! 76E

  11. Right on Dale!! A few action suggestions.
    Take a bunch of people from your place of worship to visit service at your local temple during their service to show support.
    Find ways to interact more with people in your community from other countries. (I have been doing English conversation classes for some 12 years.
    Call your government representatives as often as needed to emphasize crossing the isle and getting things done.

  12. Thank you Dale!

    This was absolutely perfect and genuinely Up With People!

  13. Thank you Dale for your wise and inspiring words. We can only be responsible for our own words and actions. We as individuals should always remain respectful in our discourse with each other. We as individuals have different experiences and differing points of view and we always will. We should be willing to share our beliefs with each other in a respectful and kind way. We are stronger as a people if we can maintain the ability to listen as intently as we speak. Even if we agree to disagree we should strive to be respectful in the process. What you suggest should not be impossible. We’ve done it in the past and we can do it now. Civility is doable for everyone. Please take the time and make the effort. The rewards of success will make the world a better place for us all. Onward.

  14. Alumni Unite! Thank you Dale for this powerful statement of the truth we all hold and the actions we must all take to change this world. Hope can never die. So thankful for how UWP opened our hearts and minds to recognize it’s one person at a time that can and WILL CHANGE THIS WORLD!

  15. Thanks for these good words Dale. Since we are in the election cycle, I’d like to highlight the one critically important issue I cannot find in any campaign for any race, and the issue you describe – unity. We must ask those running for office: What concrete steps are you taking to unify this caustic envrionment?. Tell us in specific ways your plan for reaching agreements with other viewpoints. Without unity, there can be no meaningful progress in any direction – just more polarization.
    Your list is a great starting point, lets be a voice that models these values and starts the ball rolling.

  16. Thank You for this message. Hopefully people will pull together for the common good. Respect for each other on every Level is so important. I never got the chance to thank you for the recognition given me in Tucson, this meant a great deal to me, so thank you so much.

  17. Agree wholeheartedly with your comments, Dale. Up With People IS more relevant now than ever before. One to one we change the world…truly. So proud to be part of this ongoing global Up With People mission.

  18. Thanks Dale. The reason we love hosting UWP youth is that they are different and they come from various parts of the world; sometimes much unlike ours. We come to love these kids and the impression they leave with us is deep and lasting. Hopefully they can feel our love. I only wish the whole world would jump on that bandwagon and love each other for our differences as well as our similarities and just the fact that we are all human beings and children of the same God.

  19. Well said, Dale.
    Jan and I have been in Israel in the week after the Pittsburgh tragedy, and your words were even more penetrating in light of light of that experience.

  20. Dear Dale, Thank you for this incredible message of unity you shared with the Up With People family. I have forwarded it to many to read at this crossroads we are facing. As with many alumni, the words to so many of the wonderful songs we sang keep going through my head…and my heart. I cherish the 17 years I was blessed to be part of UWP as it helped this Montana boy greatly expand his horizons and appreciation of our brothers and sisters around this country and the world…and of our beautiful and fragile Earth. Thanks for what you continue to do for UWP and the world! Glen Shepherd, UWP 1976-1993

  21. I agree Dale. We have to able to agree to disagree, and respect a different point of view. One of the things that I love about traveling, meeting new people and seeing new places is the new experiences , being able to accept and enjoy what is different from where I live, who I normally meet places I normally visit. Life is wonderful because of the differences.

  22. I appreciate the sensible comments. I have some difficulty taking it all in, But don’t assume silence om my part means any lack of interest. It is very annoying when one’s mind can’t quite keep up.

  23. Dale, thanks for this insightful message. Just the other day, I was practicing that amazing Up with People song, that most alumni aren’t familiar with, “Up the Holler:”
    I’ve been thinkin’ that the world’s gettin’ smaller,
    Ever since folks started comin’ up the holler,
    Bringin’ in a thing called civilization, and I don’t wanna see ’em come in.
    The last two verses say it so well:
    Maybe my life wouldn’t be so frustratin’,
    If I could find a way to do some more participatin’.
    I think I’ll put an end to my isolation,
    And see what would happen then.
    Maybe the thing about the world situation is there’s too many folks like me.
    If we all got involved in the things we had to solve,
    Like socio, psycolo, and ecolology!

    I been thinkin’ since the world’s gettin’ smaller,
    And all these other folks are comin’ up the holler,
    I’ll have to improve my community relations,
    If’n we’re gonna survive,
    If’n we’re gonna stay alive,
    If’n we’re gonna survive!

  24. Excellent thoughts Dale! Words really do matter and your words are inspiring and very much on point. As I read the comments made here from fellow friends and alum I am re-energized that we are all still on the same team — part of a metaphorical caravan seeking asylum from the ugliness that has been running rampant for way too long. Thanks for reminding us of what we are truly capable of achieving together —

  25. Well spoken Dale. Important words on this US election day. We in Europe hope the election will lead to a more balanced Congress. and a will to reach across all the borders dividing your country.

  26. Wow, the feedback from everyone is incredible. It’s important that we all take time to share our opinion and let our voices be heard. Thank you all so much for your support and continuing to engage in an open and respectful means of conversation.

  27. Thank you Dale – we are hosts- and the Idea of UWP is the best way of life. Thank you all the alumnis of the casts they are tourimg now an in the ost and future.

  28. Dale and everyone who haa posted those amazing thoughts , woke up. This morning in my head with the up with the UWP theme song in my head after watching several hours of you tube videos of our tours and stories and current casts and.landed this morning reading this amazing blog and like how i got involved in uwp so has me being reconnected with the spirit of uwp and the amazing videos and thoughts written and said by our founder Mr Belk and the well written timeless music of the Caldwell Brothrrs , every day more and more i am sooo grateful for had been a part of such an amazing experience and at my later age like we were told. By Mr Belk at our last meeting we had before we went home “what you have experienced in this last year will forever impact you in ways that you can’t imagine , the spirit of UWP will never die in you and forever will impact yours and everyone you come in contact with. ” even today those words resonate in my heart and spirit and every time i listen and hear these amazing timeless songs i thank God of what an opportunity he has given to impact the world im such a profound way and how with my experiences and those people we touched with our music and meeting people from all over the world bring us closer to those words i heard yesterday so powerful expressed by our founders we are global citizens and our responsibility as global citizens after having the opportunity of experiencing such an amazing year which was cast E 83 ,where we got to sit in Helsinki Finland with kids our same age from Russia which at that time it was the cold war and no one had done that before and as part of UWP i got a chance to experience that talk to kids my same age and I think in in a small way contributed to bringing us closer together , today being Veterans Day where we honor in a sad way those who have sacrificed their lives to keep us safe and secure in this amazing countries of ours ,it makes me think how more than ever UWP. Message is so vital to keep spreading the message of love and undersanfimg to those who are different and not like us to see them as God intended us to be his children we are brothers and sisters no matter where you were born or raised , we all should make a commitment to share this message to our future generations and what better way than using this amazing vehicle “UWP” like our slogan says “Building bridges of understanding between different cultures and religions ” always said this when any one asked me what is UWP ?? And after reminiscing by watching these amazing videos after so many years i come to the comcluaion that us Alumni more than ever we need to continue spreading that message despite of our civulazation advances their still a lot for us to do , our world is still in major pain and aometimes after watching the news sadden byall the evil and paim our brothers and sisters are going thru and sometimes i feel powerless , but after watching these amazing. Videos and words spoken by s0 many . I again see the difference that us Alumni can make in our lives of our children and what we can teach them amd spread that amazing spirit thatbl is UWP im all our comminities and towns. And rekindle that amazing flame that keeps spreading with our music, for my part my flame has been relit and thanl God for this amazing forum that is UWP
    Thorough my lifetime after traveling with UWP ihave been part of many amazing. Things I’ve volunteer for many things to continue helping. and UWP gave me that strength to persevere in tough times and never to give up and to give off your time to help those less fortunate. That for me has been and always be my UWP legacy and always wanna continue spreading that message that I so profoundly heard in my year with UWP in conclusion I think us as alumni we can still make a lot of difference in our world as iI to o say to those kids that we all used to see in our after UWP show , those eager and passionate fellow young people who wanted be part of that amazing experience when in those interviews ibusedvto ask them Do you think you can make a difference in the world ??, many answers were given but those who went beyond of if we can , to how and what things they would do to make a difference we knew. They would be the right fit for the UWP experience I think us Alumni can still make a lot of difference and for my part will be again more involved in helping spread that timeless message. Thank you to UWP for helping me make a difference in this world using your music And words. I should continue spreading this message by being more involved inUWP. And more tgsn ever this message needs to be spread we need to prevent another world calamity , like i was reminded after watching the atrocity s that were committed in world war 1 just 100 years ago and it could still happen agian if we don’t make an effort to continue spreading our timeless message rhank you for those who took their time ro read this message ,i apologized for being so long i hope it does get posted
    God bless us all and UWP so we can c0ntinue spreading this message and. Leave a better , more safe world to our children
    Like those amazing words from our timeless song what color is God’s skin / every ones the same in the good lords sight .

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