Archive for July, 2013

What We Do with Our Inheritance

July 30, 2013

Each one of us, no matter our circumstances, is the unexpected beneficiary of those who came before. Sure, some of you might argue, “Eh, I got nothin’ from my old man but this lousy phlebitis,” or, “My mom was the biggest shrew alive and my grandmother did everything she could to take first there, too.” True enough—I’m not claiming that our predecessors didn’t pass on their share of serious dysfunction, but let’s face it: they are the reason we’re here. Further, not only are you alive, but you’re literate and have access to the Internet. Let’s start there, shall we?

 

I say all this because for as many problems and neuroses that get passed along from generation to generation, in the long run, we’ve received a treasure chest of good things from these same folks—whether we’d want to sit down and have dinner with them or not. We may grimace and complain before we’re willing to admit that, yes, that SOB had a lot of grit to get through what he did or as cold as she was, she made sure her kids were fed and clothed; there are hugely powerful legacies our relatives left us. As re-booters, it’s important that we acknowledge this.

 

But the flipside of such examination requires us to ponder our contemporaries who celebrate whatever success their progenitors had because they believe/hope this familial connection grants them a presumption of superiority by the world. Alas, I am well acquainted with several examples of this subspecies—Bad Mood Betty and her ilk readily come to mind.  These are people who have dedicated a noticeable portion of their lives to celebrating those who came before as a not very subtle means to celebrate themselves.

 

Now the tangent I’m about to take gets a little tricky, so stay with me. I know other people who unnecessarily beat themselves up because they haven’t achieved what Big Daddy managed, or feel needlessly guilty because what they’ve been able to achieve in this life has so thoroughly benefitted from the hard work of earlier generations. These attitudes, too, are ill advised because they substantially diminish what the current generation has achieved in its own right! There is no such thing as honest success or an act of generosity that “doesn’t count.”

 

Although the arrogance of the Bad Mood Bettys of the world can be far more obnoxious, the individuals who give themselves a hard time because they haven’t achieved the notoriety or financial or academic success of Ancestors A, B, or C are equally on the wrong course. We have no say as to where we come into this world—no say as to the circumstances that greet us. And, we shouldn’t waste a single minute gloating, being resentful, or feeling guilty about where our life began. What counts is what we do with what we are given.

 

So I ask you, are we celebrating tradition because we genuinely admire the qualities of hard work, honesty, and courage of our progenitors OR are we doing it as a pretense to bolster ourselves? Are we working hard at school or the family business because we care about learning what needs to be learned and done or because we’re terrified that we will never manage to “live up” to the benchmarks they set?

 

What I am exploring in this post is the motivation underlying your actions and attitudes. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What color lenses are you looking through?

 

It is equally bad to sit around and mope that you don’t “deserve” your good fortune as it is to believe you are superior simply because you fell into a family of foosball prodigies. Do you revere Genius Uncle Joe because he invented the best way to slice bread (and therefore, the world must deduce your own brilliant bread slicing capabilities) or because you admire the determination, hard work, and careful planning it took for Uncle J to achieve this? There is a world of difference in these two mindsets, despite the fact that the celebratory banner and parade may be identical.

 

And, what I want to make clear is that this post applies equally to any situation—whether we’re talking about someone who arrived penniless in this country but managed to make a home for themselves and their children or are examining legacies on a Rockefeller scale—it’s the efforts, qualities, and character of the people who established these legacies that matters. These traits and behaviors (positive or negative) can inspire us in how we choose to live our lives. But please keep in mind that that is all they are—examples; they don’t give us any other inherent advantage or disadvantage. We may have to work harder to overcome certain conditions, but whether or not we choose to is our responsibility. Tradition for tradition’s sake doesn’t cut it.

 

I realize I’ve gone on longer than normal for this particular post, but there was no sensible way to split it into two parts. The takeaway is this: every single one of us has mixed feelings about our families—as our progeny will, no doubt, feel about us. But what is key to remember is 1) that all of us have relatives who posses qualities and behaviors worth admiring, 2) we need to understand that admiring those qualities doesn’t mean they automatically get transferred to us (we gotta work to earn them), 3) it is a waste of time to sit around and either feel guilty about the advantages we received as a birthright or to feel we’re doomed because we have decided that we can’t measure up, and 4) it is our responsibility to do what we can with this unasked-for inheritance that would make them proud of us.

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What Are Your Default Settings?

July 25, 2013

Re-booters understand that part of the re-booting process involves shutting down, going dark, and undergoing a quiet period where it appears that nothing is happening but we are, in fact, rewriting some of our fundamental operating code. Using this analogy, I’d like you to take a moment and consider what are your default settings for life?

We each come into this world programmed with a particular temperament—by nature, we may be relaxed and flexible or high strung and controlling; we may be outgoing or more introverted. We may be more likely to see the glass half full or despair at its nearly empty condition. This is what I mean by default settings. Our life experience can reprogram us in some of these respects—we learn to be more cautious where before we took people and situations at face value. We respect the limits to just how well values such as loyalty or generosity or benefit of the doubt can serve us. In other words, our original software can be modified.

And this is good.

This is good because our life experience teaches us the importance of refining our approach to the world so that we can improve our experience as well as that of the people we impact on a daily basis. Not one of us has a perfectly programmed set of software—there are always bugs to be fixed. However, that being said, I believe it is highly useful to acknowledge and understand what our default settings are because when we get highly stressed and don’t know what to do, we tend to default to those initial attitudes and instincts.

So, I’d like you to take a moment or two to see if you can recognize what those are for you. You may now be a world away from that person in terms of your increased maturity and capabilities to make smarter choices, but that original profile lurks within and you’re better off knowing that than pretending you banished these reactions long ago. Does what I am saying make any sense?

It also helps, in the privacy of your own mind, to spend a few moments trying to assess what the default settings are of those close to you. The reason I suggest this is that it will enable you to be more patient and understanding when they freak out or get all controlling or standoffish during troubling times. Instead of getting angry and reacting to these poor behaviors, you can remind yourself that they are downshifting into their default mode. Recognizing this may allow you to create enough space and generosity of spirit that the other person needs in order to recover their senses and get back on track.

For instance, when things are happening very fast and I feel stressed, my gut instinct is always to say, “No!” to whatever is suggested or demanded. Ninety percent of the time, if given enough room to think calmly about it, I come around and say, “Yes.” But, I know myself well enough to know that I really, really hate feeling like I’m being told what to do—whether or not that’s what’s actually going on. So, I’ve learned ways to cope with this default setting. I’ve learned to ask for time to consider the request instead of staking out my boundaries right away. And, it’s happened so often over the course of my life that I know this is a pattern for me. So, each time, I handle it better.

What about you? What are your default settings? Under duress, do you immediately shift into feelings of intimidation? Rage? Giving up? Passive aggressive seething? A knee jerk reaction into ascribing nefarious intentions by the other person? Have you developed any workarounds for this? What are you doing to modify your software?

Rebooters appreciate the fact that factory installed settings aren’t always the most useful. We need to become our own programmers.

What Will It Get You?

July 23, 2013

It is a languid, hot and muggy day here in Washington. Wilting under the relentless heat, DC denizens loosen their ties, endure the sweat rolling down their backs, and mutter about moving to some more pleasant locale as they wait on the Metro platform. The fact that the cars will be crowded with other, hot and sweaty bodies makes everyone grumpy. But not me!

 

And why is it, you ask, that I can be complacent—if not downright cheery—in the midst of such oppression? Because, my friends, as a Re-booter I understand that chronic griping is not an option.

 

Very unsatisfactory, I know, but there it is.

 

You get nowhere, zero, nada, nothing by whining about things you cannot change. In fact, it only makes it worse. And you know this!

 

Today, I am addressing yet another angle on one of my favorite topics: why it’s helpful to keep our mouths shut. Re-booters have reached a point in their maturity where they recognize that, more often than not, spouting off is not a favor—to us or to anyone around us. Easy to say, hard to do.

 

I’m going to give you a recent example from my life. I was in Santa Barbara when my dad hosted some out of town guests. These people have visited him over the years and have achieved a certain familiarity with how things work in our house. Of course, that was all before I moved back from the West Coast and assumed ownership of much of what goes on. At any rate, this couple is aware of my existence and have met me on more than one occasion—but I was in absentia during this particular visit. Well, as it turns out, the wife proved herself to be way more of a busybody, invasive species than I could have possibly dreamed; she took it upon herself to “clean and organize” our kitchen! This kitchen is not a pigsty or even embarrassing, but this particular woman decided that not only would she reorganize things, she would also throw out significant amounts of food in our fridge–unasked. So, when I returned to Washington, much to my displeasure, I discovered that she had thrown out perfectly good foodstuffs, moved around the pots and pans, discarded packaging I was saving for a particular purpose, and generally invaded an intimate space that was none of her freakin’ business!

 

Let the record reflect: I don’t care if there is a dead body in the refrigerator; unless I have asked you for assistance, leave the body alone and the door shut. Capiche?

 

So, what does this have to do with restraining oneself from chronic griping? I have fumed about this kitchen assault for a good week now, and have been sorely tempted to complain, repeatedly, to my dad (who was sleeping at the time this woman crowned herself Kitchen Captain) as well as call this woman up and make my feelings clear. But, I have not. In fact, in an exercise of tremendous self-discipline reflecting progress in my own ability to be sensible, I have asked myself if I could achieve any positive outcome by complaining to my dad or chewing out this New Hampshire busybody? Alas, the answer is no. Despite the visceral satisfaction I would gain from both of these activities, I have held back. I have not succumbed to this temptation because I know no good could possibly come from it.

 

A modest example, showing my smallness of temperament, but a victory in and of itself.  Oh, that, and the fact that I will be sure she never darkens my doorstep again.

 

So, the next time someone does something utterly thoughtless which makes you hot under the collar, I encourage you to reconsider before you start complaining to whatever poor sap has the misfortune of sharing your roof—it just ain’t worth it. You can find other, far more effective ways to handle your response to chronic irritation. As a Re-booter, what I have found is that the more I can cultivate serenity in my own reactions, the better my life experience. Think of all those folks griping about how hot it is on the Metro—all that caterwauling doesn’t improve the ride home.

The blissful quality of sweet escape

July 18, 2013

Fireflies fill the night. I am alone in the family vacation cottage, relishing my time away from the rest of my life. “I think I am happiest when traveling,” confesses a decades-long friend, unwilling to say (out loud) the rest of the sentence about being away from family duties and choices they sometimes question. I understand because I feel exactly the same way.

Questions of compassion, questions of mercy, and what it means to be a mature adult flit across my mind before I banish them in favor of listening to the cicadas and watching the children on bikes, followed by Labradors happily following behind, tails awaggin’. I listen to laughter drift across the gravel roads, of people (newcomers, really) who know one another far better than I, a longtimer and a stranger; I don’t fit in—not really, despite my “credentials.” But, this is ok, because it reflects the rest of my life. I can relax in my strangeness—not that anyone would necessarily identify me that way, well, except me, of course. No one is looking to me for anything. Escape can be a good, good thing.

Usually, I focus my efforts in this blog on being “real” and the willingness to honestly confront (apologies for the split infinitive) our day-to-day reality. But not today.

Today, I want to celebrate the importance of escape, of feeling wistful, of wanting to be alone. Each and every one of us wants these things and if you deny this, well, you’re either fooling yourself or are a liar. The trick is in not condemning ourselves for craving solitude, for what was, for what we can’t or don’t…have.

It’s odd to live in suspension, isn’t it? It is! What is it about running away that is so subversively delicious? I can’t tell you the number of people who have confessed wishing, desperately, to escape their realities. Who are wistful about…what was and what might have been. Who go home, each night, and struggle against their desire for something or someone who isn’t there. Some lucky few have what they want. And for those of you who do, hold tight, be grateful, and don’t forget how unusual you are.

All families are Faulknerian in nature—each and every single one of them and you know what I mean by that!  So, number one: give yourself a break; and number two: be aware of the shrill panicky quality in the laughter you hear drift from across the street—they’re not, necessarily having the carefree fun they hope to convey. This is what keeps me sane—I’m not so far “off course,” no matter what sort of show they put on. They, too, have sturm und drang. A re-booter knows this.

A Rebooter Refresher, version 2.0

July 18, 2013

As humans, we are all here to learn, mature, and grow. Alas, there seem to be way more people on this planet who prefer to opt out of such responsibilities and blithely glide through life continually puzzled as to why things are going wrong in their lives, choosing to remain ignorant of what part they may have played in the mess in which they find themselves, be it a big or small role.

 

When it comes to my own mess, there was much that beckoned me to invest in a theory that I was blameless and the innocent victim of circumstances way beyond my control. And, in certain respects, that line of argument could semi-pass the smell test; but the truth of the matter is (and, yes, this applies to you, too) we play a role in nearly everything that happens to us. So, for me, I needed to buckle down and get to the business of re-booting, which started with asking myself some painful questions of where I went wrong. What did I do to contribute to the dysfunction—what erroneous assumptions had I made and when did I choose not to see the warning signs? How many people do you know who turn a blind eye to situations they don’t want to deal with? Where might you be doing this in your own life?

 

These questions and the answers they evoked were uncomfortable and caused me a great deal of unhappiness. But I also recognized that I’d never learn how to do better if I were unwilling to tackle this. Part and parcel of this excruciating process then required me to do something probably harder than the rest of it all combined: I had to forgive myself for my mistakes, my bad judgment, my ill temper, and my determination to ignore what I knew was wrong because I had invested so much in my current path. Forgiving myself has been the hardest part.

 

Where do you stand in terms of forgiving yourself for your shortcomings? Have you betrayed someone close to you? Have you let them believe a lie? Have you taken something you shouldn’t or left undone something you should have done? Have you allowed a grudge or alienation to fester because you could see no way out?

 

This is heavy stuff, I know, but that’s because it’s all about the foundation of what comes next. You can’t successfully reboot your life unless and until you acknowledge your strengths as well as the role you played in getting yourself into this mess. Now, there are a whole lot of things in life we can’t control that may serve as the basis for re-booting, but how—and if–we go forward depends entirely on us. I think about a former classmate whose spouse died suddenly—now they have to start anew, through no fault of their own. But they still have to do it. And, the good news is they want to!

 

I hearken back to those very early days when my life imploded and I had no idea what to do. I, literally, would remind myself to, “just trust.” I said this over and over to myself for months. I knew that, for all my faults, and for whatever doubts I had about how anything could possibly work out for me, I trusted myself enough to know that if I just hung in there, and did the work necessary as it presented itself, I might inch through this long, dark tunnel. And, so I did.

 

The point of these two posts has been to remind those of you who feel lost—whether it’s a life crisis or a mild, nagging dissatisfaction—that you are well equipped to overcome this difficulty. Whether we stumble or we achieve victory, we are expanding our understanding of who we are; this is our life’s work! And, remind yourself of what an amazing example you are setting for those around you by summoning the courage to try. Good job, everyone.

A Rebooter Refresher

July 16, 2013

I think it’s worth a post to review and remind everyone what I mean when I talk about re-booting one’s life. Sometimes, when exploring our hydra-headed existence, it can be easy to lose sight of what the main point is—at least according to this blog. So here goes.

When I think about re-booting, what I am referring to is the personal acknowledgement that something fundamental about our life isn’t working the way we want it to; this can be anything from an entire life upheaval such as that triggered by a loss of a job or relationship or physical health to a far more abstruse wanting to make things better in our daily existence. No matter where you fall in this range of identifiable disconsternation, you are reading this blog because you know that it is up to you to do something to improve your experience.

All I can share with you comes from my personal experience. What I found with this need to re-boot is that, over the course of the past handful of years, as I watched the spectre of my life imploding approaching ever more quickly and with more certainty, I grew terrified, confused, angry, bewildered, and bereft. What was wrong in my life was really wrong, but how I had arrived at this point was unclear to me because I thought I had done everything as right as I possibly thought I could. Paralyzed, I didn’t see a way to avoid what was going to happen and knew I’d have to endure that dark tunnel before I could ever escape it—all this, despite being an honest and honorable, if flawed, person. Hey, bad things happen to all of us.

So, when everything went South for me, I first had to triage and cope with the immediate aftermath—the re-booting comes later. Once I survived that first stage of shock and grief, after the initial smoke cleared and I could coherently link Point A to Point B (although I was not in a place where I could do much more than that), I had a conversation with myself about how I wanted to live my life and who I wanted to be going forward. This is the re-booting.

Now, hopefully, for many of you, you will never need to undergo such a spectacular and comprehensive re-booting process, but this doesn’t mean that whatever it is about your life that is unsatisfactory isn’t as pressing or important as my thundercloud and lightning bolt dramaturgy. Because, the truth of the matter is, our struggles are important to us and be they large or small, they can impact our daily lives and those of the people around us—people we care deeply about. But it is up to each one of us to figure out what we can do to make things better in our lives—you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t attracted to this philosophy.

But first, in order to begin this re-booting process so it has even a shot of being successful, we must start by identifying with our strengths and our virtues, not our problems.  We build from strength, not weakness. Whatever problem or discontent you have, this is where you need to start: what is going right in your life? What talents and capabilities do you have that you know you can trust and rely on, that (in your most private moments) you are proud of?

Only by starting from this point do you have a shot at making other aspects of your existence better.

My next post will delve a bit more into the steps that follow. 

The Sisyphean Act of Re-framing

July 11, 2013

Regular DR readers know that I frequently address the subject of perspective. How we perceive issues important to us makes a world of difference in our experience. As Re-booters, we know that we can’t control much, but we can control how we understand, interpret, and react to the people and situations which impact our lives. This is a point that bears repeating because it is so easy to forget in the midst of the stresses that confront us on a daily basis.

Sure, I can spout off all the wise-sounding mantras in the world, when I’m calm and unchallenged, but whether or not I can remember and act on them in the midst of a crisis or a crying baby or unpleasant interaction is another story entirely, isn’t it? And further, how strongly I permit the emotional or psychological residue of the unwelcome interaction—how long I let it continue to bug the *$%@!*! out of me–to linger in my consciousness is equally important because much of what can harm us is what happens after the unwelcome act, rather than the act itself. Know anyone who holds a grudge far longer than the actual insult merited? Are you nodding your head? I bet you are.

My mom is an artist, so all my life she has been teaching me to notice and appreciate how differently compositions can appear in different light. Recently, we were both amazed to discover how a tired looking green wall can be rejuvenated by changing a white window frame to grey. Her point to me has always been that sometimes the smallest alterations can have an enormous impact in what we see. Another time, we were critiquing a very so-so watercolor she had done when she grabbed a paper mat lying on the table to frame part of the piece and exclude the rest. As she shifted the mat across the painting, color combinations and partial compositions jumped out that were terrific—something we’d never have been able to appreciate without this exercise of focusing our attention on only a portion of the painting. What seemed to me a mediocre work included some intriguing and dynamic brush strokes. My opinion about the painting changed a lot; the mat enabled me to see parts I really liked in the midst of a mess.

This sort of surprising discovery is important for re-booters to remember when slogging away in the swamp of our lives. At times, it can be difficult to see or believe that there is something vibrant and worthwhile going on in the midst of our mundane challenges—and this can bring us down. I have a friend who feels frustrated by her son’s refusal to master potty training. He much prefers mommy to take care of his business than learning to deal with it himself. According to my friend, this process has gone on way longer than she expected and she is really tired of it, but that’s where she is. What process in your life has gone on much longer than you anticipated?

For my friend, or for me with my excruciatingly drawn out job hunt, or for another friend whose parent’s abilities were critically compromised after a series of strokes, there seemed to be no sense of satisfaction or future promise of fulfillment in grappling with this task—but we still had to do it. This is where re-framing or moving the mat around your life composition comes in handy. I may dread having to put myself out there to network (when it feels like groveling) or to apply for jobs where I have no inside connection, but I have no choice. I have to do it. So, how do I keep my spirits up as I slog away like Sisyphus? I do my best to re-frame. I examine bits and pieces of my overall effort and am sometimes surprisingly pleased when I realize I’ve achieved more than I thought. Now I can see small portions of my overall effort that I’ve done well. I praise myself for my tenacity. I do not crumple up the entire painting and throw it in the trash.

Homework assignment: Can you find a way to re-frame a burden in your life so that you can see something in it that gives you satisfaction? There’s gotta be something—just move the mat around.

What we can glean from the shadows

July 9, 2013

According to the web-based Urban Dictionary, the term shadow casting is defined as, “a group of people that performs a movie in front of a screen while that movie is playing; they essentially pantomime the movie. Most often seen during showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” This term is also utilized in fly fishing circles for a particularly elegant and complicated cast, incorrectly portrayed in A River Runs Through It. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the practice of using shadow puppets in performances of morality plays is known as wayang kulit, where “wayang” means shadow, imagination, or spirit. Many practitioners in this part of the world believe that the characters’ true spirit can only be conveyed by the shadows—the puppets, themselves, have diminished significance.

Each of these highly divergent uses of the term “shadow casting” suggests a more intriguing meaning than is apparent on first glance. For example, to pantomime makes us think of ridiculous mimicry, but there may be unusual or unexpected interpretations that can exist only when seen in conjunction with the original work. In contrast, while fly fishers have an appreciation for the finesse used to drop a line, the fish doesn’t care how the lure lands in the water, only whether or not it is caught. And for audiences of Indonesian puppet plays, drama and meaning are found in the elongated visuals appearing on the stretched canvas backdrop, not by watching the puppets.

One of the quotes from the Bible which I always remember is taken from 2 Corinthians, which says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” I love all the possibilities presented by this sentence. Regardless of one’s religious affiliation (or lack thereof), stay with me, because I have a point directly relevant to our present day experience. The value of shadow casting reminds us that there can be (unexpected) meaning far beyond the original effort or intention—this statement applies equally to people of faith or not! Take my first example about pantomime: we may gain insight into the characters being mimicked that we’d miss were we only to watch the film—any political satirist or SNL actor will attest to this theorem. Next, the way in which a fishing line lands on the water suggests an artistry and mastery of technique that no actual caught fish could confirm. And lastly, shadows often convey a sense of menace or heroism that the puppet, itself, could never hope to achieve.

Keep in mind that all three of these definitions rest on the prerequisite of our acting as witness. We aren’t shadow actors, we’re shadow watchers. The shadows tell us things we’d never see were we onstage. Isn’t that interesting? I just love the possibility of all this wisdom and insight that can be gained if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. In other words, a vast portion of what we may learn in this life requires us to be still, to listen, to watch, and not to act.

As a Re-booter, I believe it’s important to remind myself of this because there are moments in all our lives in which we are powerless to act. There’s nothing we may be able to do about X, Y, or Z, but we can pay attention. We can watch the shadows… and learn.

Who is a hero in your life?

July 2, 2013

With July 4th just around the corner, this seems like a good time to acknowledge just how messy and chaotic-seeming a thriving democracy can be. Democracy takes guts. It demands a lot of the people involved and pushes its participants to the brink of much of what they hold dear in the name of compromise, in the name of principles, and in the pursuit of a society that has chosen to exist together. E pluribus unum.

Our Founding Fathers risked their lives and those of their families to break free from England’s colonial rule. What they did was heroic, in the highest sense of that word, which is the focus of today’s post. I’d like you to think about the heroes in your life. Who do you admire and why? By my guess, nearly all of them will be people you know. What brave actions have they taken or qualities have they demonstrated that inspire you? Be specific!

The good news is that our heroes, like us, are flawed human beings, so it’s to be expected that you’re not going to approve of all of their traits; but what I’m asking you to reflect upon is those qualities, those examples-in-action that have caught your attention sufficiently that when I pose this question, they are who comes to mind.

Now, having spent a minute or two thinking about heroic qualities, I’m going to push you in a direction you probably don’t want to go. Think of somebody you dislike or who irritates you, a lot. Truth be told, they, too, possess some quality or have done something in their lives that you can admire—and no, saying something like, “She really knows how to manipulate a person to get her way,” or, “He’s amazing at his ability to ignore things he doesn’t want to see, I wish could do that,” doesn’t count for purposes of this exercise.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and try. What positive quality does this SOB have that is admirable, if not outright heroic? This can be a single instance you witnessed, years ago, or it can be as mundane as their genuine devotion to their children.

While I, personally, believe the term “hero” is overused in our hyperbolic society, I believe that we can find things to appreciate in the behavior of those we, otherwise, have little in common. It is this sort of respect and appreciation which makes our democracy possible. How about the courage or patience a coworker demonstrated during an interaction with an abusive boss? What small courtesy or act of consideration or restraint has inspired you? How have you tried to incorporate that same spirit into how you live your life?

Americans are known for their big, noisy, splashy, obnoxious celebrations of themselves—and I’m ok with that. We’ve got a really good thing going in this country, but we need to be sure we do the work necessary so future generations can build on what’s available to us. And what I mean by this is living honestly, thinking critically, and allowing enough room in any political or public policy debate such that genuine differences of opinion are not shouted down through intimidation, political correctness, or moral condemnation. The qualities that our Founding Fathers evidenced in their courageous acts, their belief in Judeo-Christian democratic principles which was the source of their inspiration and sacrifice—these beliefs and qualities are available to us today and usually evidence themselves in the least dramatic acts imaginable.

What about you? You have the freedom to incorporate the heroic qualities of any person you admire. Who do you want to be?


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