What can I possibly write about to inspire at this time?
The world is so heavy that I would love to write about something simple, joyful and light. Yet it seems inappropriate in the face of protests, riots and instances of police brutality. (One small question: Have the mayors and governors thought about crime-reduction strategies while they’re reflexively slashing budgets?)
Nor can I stand on a soapbox about the anger and divisiveness in the country—we are all painfully aware of it…and I’ve written about it before.
Instead, l thought I would look to quotes of inspiration from past times of challenge to hopefully help all of us to believe in the power of the human—and American—spirit…to help us know that we can work through this with the care and intention of all for the greater good.
Beauty after the fight. When approximately 800,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park burned in 1988, many people were horrified by the mass destruction and were certain that life would not return to this beautiful site. But 30 years later, there is new growth and vegetation and wildlife abounds.
The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. –Molière, French playwright (1622–1673)
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. –Seneca The Younger (Roman Philosopher)
Human relationships. Perhaps the biggest hurdle we need to overcome at this moment is stubbornly holding onto our own opinions while dismissing contrary points of view. Name-calling and blind accusations indicate that there is no desire to learn or find mutual ground. If we are to find a path forward, it must include a willingness to understand all points of view. After the tragedy that occurred with George Floyd, the airwaves were filled with white people expressing their remorse at not understanding the plight of people of color—but the issues are extremely complex, and there are many plights to be heard from many groups. Only through broad listening can solutions be found to help us all.
It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias. – from Killosophy by Criss Jami, American poet
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. –Bryant H. McGill, activist, social entrepreneur, social-media influencer
Real listening is a willingness to let the other person change you. –Alan Alda, actor, author
Hope for the future. Frankly I hate the word “hope.” It is a victim word. “Let’s sit around and hope things get better.” I would far prefer to take action to make things better for myself and for those around me. Sadly, I am watching decisions being made at the government level—city, state and federal—over which I have no influence. And many of the protests and protestors are so militant in their views that rational thought and action are being forgotten. Some perspective…
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin. –Mother Teresa
The struggle of today is not altogether for today; it is for a vast future also. –Abraham Lincoln
When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind. –African Proverb
On rewriting the past. Sadly, throughout humanity, there has been cruelty. Actions and behaviors and decisions of the past were based on the values and cultural views of that time. Our world is vastly different from what it was during past horrific wars, battles and events, though clearly, as a species, we have a long way to go.
One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. –Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, 1898–1978.
About the greater good. The narcissism that has enveloped us over recent years, thanks to social media and the extreme focus on “building self-esteem,” has given the false impression that each individual should always get his or her way…that disappointment is not an option. In a country of 330 million people, that simply isn’t possible.
All issues in the society prevail, because the person thinks, the self is separate from the society. And this is the gravest mistake that any sentient species could ever make. With great sentience, comes great responsibility. –Abhijit Naskar, neuroscientist and author of Citizens of Peace: Beyond the Savagery of Sovereignty
And on a final note…
Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in. –Alan Alda
Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast, where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life.