Friday, January 27, 2017

Thoughts on the Current State of Things...

I recently read a story in the New York Times magazine about former President Obama's commitment to reading ten letters every day from constituents, and the team of people hired at the White House to read and down-select the letters for him to read. It was fascinating, and the article can be found here for those who what to read it:

I learned after reading that article that the white house office has a tumbler account where some of the letters (and the president's reply) are preserved for people to read. I haven't read all of them, but the ones I have read have been pretty great, if you want to read those too.

These letters made me think of the videos "YouTube Asks Obama", which were produced by some of my favorite internet personalities, and both of which I was able to watch live as those personalities asked questions from their audience (including me) live and in person. If you didn't see them, they are archived at the links below:

And all of that information about former President Obama has gotten me to thinking about how the power of reputation really matters, especially in a president. I am not a political expert - I vote just as blindly as the rest of America. I vote based on personality. And what I felt from President Obama, the reason I voted to re-elect him to office (the first presidential election I voted in, when he was the incumbent), was that he was at least trying to listen to everyone's opinion. His personality was one that I trusted, one that felt open. 

Like many of you, I have been concerned by the personality the current president has displayed. I have felt that his personality is one of a combative nature, that he is not open to the things I care about, and that he is prone to play the victim, especially online.  Today, in my "Lean In" circle at work, we talked about the concept of "being your own hero". The lesson is available at for those interested. In the talk, the presenter highlighted the importance of not playing the victim, not blaming everyone else for your problems. He said to take responsibility is not to accept the blame - it's to use your power to change the situation. I think, as a country, we could all take that advice - the new president, those that voted for him, and those that voted against him. Rather than blaming each other, let's figure out how to change the situation.

I don't know who originated this quote, but it hung on the wall in my world history class in high school, and I have most frequently heard it repeated by Dr. Hrabowski, the president of my university - "Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your becomes your destiny."

America. Our words are becoming our actions. Our personality matters. I know I'm not saying anything super original here. But I think the in-fighting between parties has become a habit. As the left walks further left and the right walks further right, the thoughts become more opposing. Those thoughts were words in the election season. They are becoming actions, unless we do something about it.

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