VOICES: United States of America more than a name, it’s a call to action

Note from Community Impact Editor Amelia Robinson: This guest opinion column by Dayton native Jayden Pullen appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Dec. 13.

I’m a 19-year-old young man. Black. Autistic.

Transitioning from the protection of being a child, when parents and teachers shielded me from the world to adulthood has been scary.

The thing that bothers me the most right now is the lack of unity I see in the world.

From my perspective, unity is people coming together to help each other for a common goal. Throughout my short years, I was taught that unity was the norm. The concept was in everything from school lessons to movies.

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In school, I learned about Athens and Sparta putting aside their differences to fight against the Mighty Persian Empire. In one of my favorite movies, humans teamed up with Autobots to defeat Megatron and the Decepticons to save the universe.

I thought unity was supposed to be a given in the world. But, now, launched into adulthood and no longer behind the shield of my parents and teachers, I struggle to find it.

From the 2020 presidential election to the Black Lives Matter protests (and anti-BLM protests) to people’s opposing stances on COVID, many major divisive things are happening all at once, and it all seems to be weighing on everyone so heavily that we’ve forgotten common decency.

Where did that go?

Seems like we need to find that, so we can get to a place of unity regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, political views, gender, opinions, social justice causes, etc.?

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I know I haven’t been in this world long, but I have a couple of really simple ideas on how we can find that common decency — finding our way back to unity.

  • Instead of being rude to each other on social media over opposing views, have respectful conversations with the intent of understanding (not the same as agreeing with) the other person’s view. You could learn something. They could learn something. You could both grow. I wish there was a forum that set up something like timed and moderated public virtual roundtables for everyday people to discuss everyday issues.
  • Instead of putting energy into countering/thwarting a group’s efforts to obtain justice (e.g. BLM, feminist movement, immigrant rights movement, etc.), empathize with the struggles that group is facing. Or, honestly, you could merely go about your day and leave them be.

My ideas won’t solve the problem, but they are a start. The point is, we’re supposed to be the United States of America. I don’t see that as just a name, but a call to action. We should be putting our energy into helping each other reach common goals, not attacking each other.


Dayton native Jayden Pullen excelled in track and field, cross country, swimming, marching band and theatre while in high school. Pullen is now a freshman at Columbus State Community College, where he is exploring liberal arts options, working a part-time job and writing. His aspiration of joining the military could not be fulfilled because he has Asperger Syndrome, a type of autism. Guest columns are submitted or requested fact-based opinion pieces typically of 300 to 450 words.

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