Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Our Future Depends on Us All

"Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances." --Maya Angelou

Then comes the part where a cool morning summer stroll becomes a little magical, and the faux columns I see transform into real ones; I imagine I'm among Roman ruins at sunrise.

Really, I did. Just for a moment I immerse myself in antiquity while hundreds of years of history rise and fall inside me. Of countries conquering and collaborating. Of generations of families, friends and enemies living and dying, loving and warring. Of leaders leading progress and those leaving a destructive wake. (At least the parts I remembered from school and the time the Mama and I were actually there years ago.)
Of course we were nowhere near Rome. We were in Folsom, California, the morning after a fun weekend visiting family and friends, our girls getting time with those good folk we don't see very often.     
          
And I love Folsom. And El Dorado Hills. And Lake Tahoe. And Sacramento. And of course Santa Cruz. And every single city and destination I've ever been in throughout America. Hiking through the Southwest in the spring. Walking through Central Park on a muggy summer day (and now swimming under a waterfall on the lovely island of Maui). Strolling through the Blue Ridge mountains in the fall. Celebrating the holidays and Christmastime in Anaheim at Disneyland (we are not snow people).

From sea to shining sea.

But not just in America. I also love every place around the world I've ever been fortunate enough to visit, especially the travels I've had with the Mama. To witness the wonders of the world as well as the harsh realities of poverty and civil unrest.

Shortly after 9/11, the Mama and I went traveling abroad, counterintuitive to what many Americans were doing at the time. We stopped by a deli in Venice to get some lunch and the man behind the counter, who didn't no much if any English, smiled and asked:

"Americans?"

We said yes, and then he added:

"God Bless America."

Then later on that very same trip we found ourselves in the midst of an anti-American rally. Swallowed up by an angry but thankfully peaceful mob while pickpockets poked at our jackets and belt lines.

I know it's a tired cliché comparing America with the rise and fall of any empire of old (think Brexit now). I really do. Even with all the policitical and socioeconomic divisive complexity, this is still a great nation, this United States of America. The Mama and I are proud and engaged citizens and we're raising our girls to be the same. This isn't a nation that's lost its greatness, it's still an important bastion of democracy in this ever-erratic polarized and populist world. But it is a nation like much of the modern world that sorely lacks in great leadership, effectual leadership.

Personal leadership in particular. We can blame all our woes on terrorists and Wall Street and Congress and even the President of the United States (and we did with Presidents Bush and Obama, depending on what side of the fence we hemmed and hawed on). We can blame two presidential candidates with the highest disapproval ratings ever in the history of this country. But for me it all starts at the "home office," no matter the circumstance or the status.

I am not you and you are not me and I yet will still celebrate all our differences, even the little crazy ones. Those of you with the big crazy however, God help you, because I cannot, even with the separation of church and state. I can empathize with those of us who are willing to stay informed about the state of their world -- from local to global -- and who are willing to take action that builds up and not tears down. I'm not asking everyone to be a Rhodes Scholar, or to forgo keeping the "bad guys and girls" in check. I'm just requesting that we stay informed as objectively as possible and make informed decisions, which can be a challenge I know. (Fact-checking detectives by nature we are not.)

It still starts with us. We may be oppressed and disenfranchised -- we may feel like puppets of the 1 percent -- and yet we can still rise above and make a difference for our friends and family, our neighbors down the street and across this great country. I know we can. We can strive for autonomy from the 50/50 split and move to at least the 60/40 compromise, creating the incremental improvements that truly are the catalysts of positive change and progress. To improve our individual and collective circumstance.

Which is why I'm declaring independence from ignorance and intolerance. Really, I am. This nation's future is inextricably linked to the future of the rest of the world. It cannot be uncoupled without detrimental economic and diplomatic consequence. And cutting off the world won't stop the gun-toting crazy.

Stand up straight and keep democracy alive. Stand up and lead. We are an American citizens. We are a global citizens. And our children are as well. Our future depends on us all.


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