This site is about running, parenting and living well. Sometimes “living well” extends beyond pursuing personal happiness and dreams. Sometimes living well means finding your place within our complicated world and striving to make it better – for everyone. So, in that spirit, I offer you this.
It has been a busy few days in America, beginning with an inauguration steeped in tradition but far from unifying, followed by a historic, nationwide Women’s March that brought together thousands of men and women representing diverse interests but fundamentally united behind a single cause: defense of a progressive democracy. And now we return to jobs, schools, carpools, errands, … every day life. But, if anything, the past few days have taught us that this is not an ordinary time. So what do we do next? And where does it fit in the confines of our already busy lives?
There are a few things:
· Hold Your Politicians, Journalists - and Yourself - to the Highest Account. Facts. Truth. Transparency. Integrity. These matter now more than ever. Skewing, distorting or misrepresenting facts to prove a point not only is dishonest, it robs you of all credibility. Our elected officials have a fiduciary duty to provide a clear and accurate account of facts and the rationale behind their decision-making. Journalists have a responsibility to provide an honest and unbiased account of the news. And we, as citizens, owe each other the same truth. We may have different policy views or political opinions that are legitimate subjects of debate. But let those debates be based on informed substance, and not on“facts” that have no basis in reality. On either side.
· Learn History, and Learn from History. It is important to understand the difference between patriotism and radical nationalism. You do not need to look any further than to Germany’s past to learn the dangers that come from failing to recognize the distinction. And if the goal is to unite the people in our country, you first need to understand the complicated histories of our diverse citizenship. Simply, whether at home, or abroad, learning the histories behind today’s conflicts and divisions is an absolute first step toward resolving them and avoiding the mistakes of the past.
· Do Not Wait for Government to Hand You a Solution. Do you want better schools? Do not wait for someone to wave a wand and make them “great again”. Call your child’s teacher and ask how you can help. Serve on a school committee. Read with a child. Prioritize education as a lifelong endeavor in your home. Whether your priorities are in education, safer communities, or the environment, do not wait. Pick a cause. Do something.
· Break Outside of Your Bubble. It is easy to surround yourself with news and opinion pages that are aligned with your position, to shelter yourself in a community of friends and neighbors who are like-minded, and to ignore the noise that is outside of the bubbles that we create for ourselves. Living within our status quo is easy, but it will not change things. So broaden your news base. Have lunch with a friend or acquaintance who has expressed opinions that are diametrically opposed to your own, and listen to understand why. Travel broadly if you can, and immerse yourself in other traditions, cuisines, and cultures. Read. Read. Read.
And most of all this:
· Never Lose Hope. Our country is undeniably divided in our politics, our policies, and in our priorities. But also know this: Most people in this country are fundamentally good and well intentioned. They simply are looking for solutions – both big and small – to make their lives, and their families’ lives, just a little bit better. And in this, we have great common ground on which to build.
And that should give us all hope.