Reasons to Be Positive

Just another run of the mill day. The sun was out for a season tease of warmer weather to come. As I type I can hear my kids jumping on the trampoline in the backyard. Their rambunctious sounds fill me with joy. With so much loss and suffering in the world during this crisis, it is the little things that are giving me delight the last several weeks.

Earlier in the day, I posed a question to my wife and children. What is a positive thing that you’ve learned or experienced during this stay at home lock-down the past 5 weeks?

As I reflected on this myself, a few thoughts came up. The main positive for me has been the quality of time that I have been able to spend with my wife and my children. I mentioned to my wife that I don’t think we have spent this much continuous time together in our seventeen year marriage since we were dating. I also remarked to my children, that this is the most time I’ve been able to spend with each of them since they were born. As tough as this situation has been, I am grateful for that. I never spent a complete month uninterrupted with my mother or father that I can remember, and it has been an unforgettable experience getting to know a little bit more about my wife and children.

I really love hearing about their concerns, dreams, aspirations, goals, anxieties, and just to feel their closeness. I know that not everyone is having the same experience and for some it is an utterly heartbreaking ordeal. That realization makes my time with my family all the more cherished.

Throughout all of this I have also contemplated on just how fragile life is and the indiscriminate nature of this virus. It doesn’t care if you are conservative or liberal, or if you think you’re healthy or not. One minute we can be fine and well, and the next we are gone. Love the people in your life and let them know you love them. Time is short. Time is fleeting. What is a hundred years in eternity? What is hundred years on earth? A speck of time and place in the vastness of the universe. Just enjoy it while you can, at least that is what I keep repeating and reminding myself.

I’ve also learned to better communicate with far away family members. My mother traveled back to a Haiti a few weeks before the coronavirus started in the U.S. and is now stuck there. The horrific news was coming from China and Europe and I advised her not to go during all of this. At first I was upset with her for such a foolish decision, especially since she is high risk due to her age. I’ve come to realize that the same way I let my kids learn from their decisions, I have to do the same with my mother, and respect her decisions, not matter what I think. I’ve been talking to her almost daily through Whatsapp and have really appreciated the in-depth discussions we’re having that probably never would’ve happened with my former busy/hectic schedule. I was always too busy for long phone calls, and now I cherish them and call too frequently. It’s sad that it took a pandemic for me to change.

Lastly, the other wonderful thing that I’ve learned is that I can do things that I always thought I couldn’t. I’ve always liked to write, but always made excuses for not taking the time to do so. Work, family, meetings, responsibilities, and excuse after excuse after excuse. It’s really a cathartic exercise and a way to express how I’m feeling. I think for a lot of people, they’ve looked at this pandemic and subsequent shutdown as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, try something new, or just simply start something that they have planned on doing for a long time. Before this I never had a blog of any sort.

Again, it took a pandemic to get me to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time. Despite the difficulty and the suffering all around us, there are rays of light, and reasons to be positive.

The Beauty of Diversity

My mother is black. My father is white. My mother is a from a small caribbean island. My father is from Switzerland. I was baptized Catholic as an infant, raised as a devout Latter Day Saint (Mormon), in a Jewish neighborhood, while I went to Catholic school. It was an interesting childhood to say the least. I love diversity in all its forms. There is a beauty to this melting pot we call the human race.

Homogeneity is a bore. Believe me, I’ve lived in some very homogenous places and it is tough to endure. Homogeneity of appearance, speech, religion, and thought is not a good thing. It encourages fear and hatred of anything or anyone that is different.

Diversity of Race.

I love the variation of skin colors and faces in the world. I love the fact that no two people are exactly the same. What’s even better is that our world is becoming even smaller day by day, providing more opportunities to interact with each other. Sure we are all on lockdown for the next few months. This too shall pass. In the history of our human experience this will be a minor setback. Eventually we’ll get back to traveling to see each other, and we will continue the blending of cultures, languages, and our differing experiences.

What makes cultures like America so great is that it is a hodgepodge of people from all over the world. The vast majority of Americans are not native to this land. We all came from somewhere else, except for the Native Americans of course. That is heartbreaking story to discuss for another day. Our country is one big social and racial experiment. Sure it’s been turbulent, slavery, social injustice, prejudice, and continued discrimination. That being said, things are getting better all the time. Is it perfect? Of course not. But the times they are changing. Little by little.

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that the differences in our racial and ethnic backgrounds are what make this country so strong and innovative. We’re not a feudal nation, we are a meritocracy, where it really doesn’t matter the color of your skin, or where you come from. As long as you’ve got something the market wants or needs, there is an opportunity.

Diversity of Religion.

I love the Bible. I love the Quran. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Vedas. I love the Talmud. There are many other modern and ancient texts that I love as well, too many to write. The point is I love all people of faith, and I am genuinely fascinated by how people practice their faith. I even love the faithless, because although they might not understand or know it, they too have a faith in something, beit science, technology, or even the unknown.

Is it just coincidence that people have an innate sense of something higher or greater? It’s in our DNA. It’s something that we were given from before we came to this earth. This longing to believe in something more. We are something more than just an evolved organism spinning extremely fast on a rock hurtling through nothingness.

I think the fact that we all have these various beliefs, even though we are separated by time and place, point to deity, and is a testament to me that we are all one. We are all the children of a loving Creator and our minor differences are insignificant.

Diversity of Ideas.

One of my favorite things to do is to sit with someone I don’t know very well and hear their life’s story. I love to hear their ideas, their background, their experiences. The way they string thoughts and sentences together, and the lens through which they view the world. Everyone has ideas and they are worth learning.

No one has a monopoly on all of the ideas that are out there and there is something to be learned from everyone. We can learn how to succeed, how to fail, what to do, and what not to do. We can learn from the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the wise and the foolish. We can learn from the faithful and the non-believers, from the loving and the hateful, from the prideful and the humble.

It’s a beautiful thing to be surrounded by people that don’t think like you and to learn from them. It is human nature to want to hang out and be friends with those who agree with your worldview. It makes for a peaceful and uncontentious life. We don’t need to contend with those who see things differently. There is no need to resort to tribalism. We should extend an olive branch of understanding and seek to see from their view of the world. If we are seekers of truth we need to seek it in all its forms, and accept it from whoever it may come from. We must also be willing to accept that we are often wrong.

We live in a beautiful world of many different races, beliefs, and ideas. May we accept these differences and the people they come from. Not only do they make the world a better and more interesting place, but they help us to become more loving and compassionate beings.