Thursday, November 6, 2014

What do we cheer for?

On Sunday, my family ventured into the city to watch the New York City Marathon.  We were in Central Park a bit under 2 miles from the finish.  The path was lined with a variety of people cheering the runners on.  There were teams supporting their runner or their charities and little children high fiving every random runner.  But, what stood out to me the most was a young female 30 something cheering for each runner and ringing her cowbell as loud as she could.  Who was she?  Was she there with a team?  Maybe she was a runner?

As the afternoon passed into early evening, it became clear she was there on her own.  Now, out of superficiality some of you are picturing the sad lonely New York female.  You couldn't be more wrong.  She was a hair under six feet tall, athletically thin, shiny blonde hair, and a porcelain complexion.  After briefly speaking with her, I learned that she herself had been a marathoner and that her friends had finished hours ago.

Depspite her friends finishing, she was still there on the sidelines rooting for every pariticipant that came by.   If a runner had their name on their shirt she would scream their name.  If they were struggling she would holler loudly  "you're lookin' good" or "great job".  This woman was in the park when we got there and she was still there when we left.  Her enthusiasm never relented. And it really got me thinking what do we cheer for?  What gets our encouragement, our effort, our enthusiasm?

We all have a favorite sports team we support. But, sometimes the way people express that support is more antagonistic than supportive.  This past Wednesday, you were either happy or upset with how the political landscape changed.  As the news trickeled out, the responses were hostile.  It was either the sore winners (in your face) or the sore loosers (let's just throw you under the bus).  What do we cheer for?  

You see selfless cheering when a pitcher is one inning away from pitching a perfect game.  Or when an Olympic athlete has set a new world record.  Those are the best moments.  Everyone focussed, holding their breath, hoping, wishing, and praying. Then it happens and the universe screams in total joy.  Last Sunday, that is what I saw in that woman.  And now I wonder what the world would be like if we could all put a bit of ourselves aside to just simply cheer.  J.. R. R. Tolkien said, "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kids and Voting


My children haven't missed a single election since they we're born.  Whether they walked or were snuggled into the double stroller, they were there.  They will go with me again tomorrow. As the girls grow up I want them to understand that participating in elections is not an optional activity - but a responsibility as a citizen of this country.  Simply put by HIllary Clinton, "Voting is the precious right of every citizen."  

Raising children to be good citizens is vital.  Helpling them to understand how their actions impact others is a major goal of mine.  My hope is to teach them how to make good solid decisions. As years give way to years and they find themselves on the doorsteps to adulthood, I have no interest in telling them what to think.  And I have no desire to tell them who to vote for.  In fact I rather enjoy watching them argue their points of view.  Even if the debate is presently about who plays fairly at recess time.  The debate is important.  The best characterization comes from Margaret Thatcher, "I love argument, I love debate.  I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me."  


In 1989, I remember registering to vote for the first time.  It was in the hallway at Jamestown High School. I was excited and thrilled.  My parents never told me what party to choose.  When it came time for my first election, they never told me who to vote for either.  Their restraint is commendable, because I registered as a Democrat.  It is safe to say that in my family immediate and extended - I am the only Democrat among them.  However, I have often wondered if my parents anticipated that as I matured I would switch parties.  And in there interest of full disclosure my mother and I do toss the issues back and forth from time to time.  

However, my hope for my children is not just that they find their voice - but that they use it.  Voting will allow them to speak on issues that matter to them, their household, and their neighbors.    Ronald Reagan once said, "We can't help everyone.  But everyone can help someone." Compelling them to use their voice at the voting booth is the first step.