What a month it has been. It feels like the world has been turned upside down since the elections. No matter how you voted, it’s plain to see that the country is divided and this leaves me wondering what can be done about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have easy answers which is also somewhat troubling. I am someone who likes having action plans and goals and linear paths towards achievement. Indecision and lack of direction are two states of consciousness that don’t sit well with me. So, when I see protests on the news or hate crimes creeping out of the shadows, my first instinct is to wonder: what can I do to help my fellow Americans? How do I get involved to assuage the anger?
But then, selfishly, my second thought quickly follows and that is to feel grateful that I live in this community I share with you. Maybe it’s naïve to believe, but it feels like Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park, Beverlywood and West Los Angeles exist in its own bubble, immune to many of the troubles facing the bigger, more volatile, sometimes scarier world. We have great schools, jobs, opportunities, a thriving economy, open minded and educated people of all races and religions, all stuck in traffic on the same congested freeways.
My mind drifts back again to the issues at large because that cozy, safe feeling of security; me being grateful living ‘here’ instead of ‘there’ doesn’t really help much toward healing the rest of the country.
Perhaps the upcoming holiday season will help lighten the mood and soften the edges a bit. Families lucky enough to find support in one another will ideally come together and eat and laugh and find unity. Hopefully elders will influence the youngsters to take an active role in the kind of world in which they want to live. Ideally, we will mesh as a fractured nation and realize that our diversity is one crucial part of what makes our country great. We’ll recognize that our shared hope for a positive future can bond us together, not tear us apart.
The holiday season always inspires me to appreciate what I usually take for granted by helping those who may not be as fortunate. I recognize that there are others who might not have it as great as we do and so I try to give something back, to hopefully make someone’s day a bit brighter. But just as important as doing something for others, it’s just as critical to do something nice for yourself, too. As parents, spouses and professionals, we’re often caught devoting the majority of our energy to the wants and needs of others. I’m just as guilty of this as anyone and truthfully, it’s exhausting. So, each December I try to make an effort to recharge my batteries a bit. Work usually slows down and I can often find moments of quiet to take a break and mentally prepare for what will likely be a busy year ahead.
2016 wasn’t an easy one for my family. We lost my mom after a long and painful illness and though it’s been seven months, we’re still mourning her loss each day. But, on the bright side, we experienced our fair share of delight this year, too. My wife and I take great pride in our boys becoming thoughtful members of society and dignified young men. We were also thrilled to welcome a new nephew into our family… a baby who illuminates our lives with joy every time he is near.
Perhaps a parallel can be made regarding the current state of affairs in our country. Like with most things, there is some bad but also good, too. So how do we navigate going forward? Maybe by coming together as best as we are able; by being kind and patient and open to one another’s ideas; by listening to each other; by finding the good in our friends, neighbors, family members and even strangers; by standing up for what we believe are the moral truths that make our community and country great; by doing our part to be positive members of society.
Doing all of that may be the closest I come to an action plan and no one said the path to unity would be linear or even easy. But I am willing to work toward the goal of achieving a sense of peace and harmony during the holidays, in the new year and the months beyond. I hope the rest of the country can work towards this, too.
From my family to yours, I wish you and your loved ones the happiest and healthiest of holiday seasons.