Open Letter to America

Dear America,

I would be lying if I did not express that I’m ticked off at you right now!  It’s not the specific outcome of the recent national election, it’s the fact that we have led to this point in the first place.  Despite never growing up in a time where I was told “you can’t vote”, I still felt helpless and crippled.  It seemed nearly impossible to express a “vote”, such an American right of passage.

Our political landscape is so broken that we allowed some of the ugliest representation of human behavior to be overlooked in order to move forward on some version of a new agenda.  Yes, we needed a disruptor.  This was apparent.  We did not need a grotesque, immoral display of political mud-slinging.  Not for this seat, not for our lead role.

We have been revealed in ways many of us never thought possible in this day in age.  After all, many leaders and communities have worked so hard up until this point to remove discrimination and fear from different race, class, or gender.  Yet, here it is, blatantly in front of our faces and significantly disappointing.  In addition, we are faced with countless versions of corruption, unhealthy bias, and even greater levels of fiscal irresponsibility.

When can we get over this?  When can we move on?  When can we cut the crap?  I’m ready to take those steps, are you?

There is a line from the non-fictional movie, We Are Marshall; “…from the ashes we rose”.  We are, for all intensive purposes, in our own version of ashes.  We have been forced to look more closely at the power of narcissism, the tout of the 1%ers, and underlying corruption within systems.

Yet, the variables do not define us all as Americans.  They show us that we need to do better.  We need to further understand big picture variables such as the widening income gap, the effect of rapid change with technology and related applications such as social media, and the dynamics of fear within our culture.  For some, they may build a wall either physically or figuratively.  If so, my guess is the bulk of us will tear the walls down.

It is time to “think globally, act locally” (Mahatma Gandhi).  It is time to own up to our spilled, broken, in fact, shattered bottle of milk and clean it up!

I feel a little lost in this maze and I know I’m not alone.  And so…  for now, without the most clear idea of what to do next, I have decided to reflect on a few of the “American sort of things” that make me smile and bring positive memory.  I hope you can enjoy a few or all of them.  In no particular order, a list of 20 is below;

  1. Iconic 80’s movies such as Goonies – o.k., I heard you say it out loud… I’ll say it with you, “Hey you guys….”
  2. The Great Lakes – such a fantastic design by nature, park me lake side with passing sail boats and I’m immediately calmed.
  3. Mason Jars – of course I love practical solutions, but can you think of something else more iconic?
  4. My 94 year old aunt, who despite humble upbringings, obtained her college degree!
  5. Country Music – this may not be every one’s cup of tea, but the story telling and life lessons can be really impactful. Although he’s an Aussie, Keith Urban’s “Where the Black Top Ends” …  where the grass, dirt, and the gravel all meet will always remind me of trips home.
  6. Indiana Basketball – is there anything like it? I mean, really?
  7. Fireworks and fire flies on the 4th of July.
  8. Madonna – she ruffled a few feathers in her day, but she pushed boundaries and proved to be wildly successful. She grew into a compassionate, artistic woman allowing fans to follow her along the way.
  9. The Florida-Alabama line – for us, our family definitely tried to save a little money via road trips. Although usually this was just to see grandma & grandad, occasionally it also met a trip to Disney.  As a child, this was undoubtedly equivalent to a major life accomplishment.  I’m sure for a parent, being able to take their children there may have been just that as well.
  10. NASA
  11. Railroad bridges – again, such an iconic imagery that never seems to get old.
  12. University towns – I grew up in one. I am 100% grateful for the racial and international diversity this exposed me to.
  13. Tornado alley – this may sound like an odd entry to the list, but growing up feeling like you might actually live through an Oz like moment was kind of a thrill.
  14. Team Spirit.
  15. Classic cars & crop planes.
  16. “Damn Yankees” – it came a little bit odd to me when someone called me a Yankee, but the more I thought about it, the less I minded. Although I am definitely not from the Northeast, I spent some time there.  The accents are incredible and the lessons I learned while living there have been lifelong.  After all, who doesn’t appreciate a good “jersey shore” style fist pump!
  17. Classic rock music – Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Journey… where is the juke box?
  18. 911 responders.
  19. Baby animals – this is likely worldwide, but who doesn’t love photos of baby animals? I had to throw this one in there.
  20. Public Health & Prevention – I can think of no greater lessons than my unexpected journey into a Public Health degree has provided. Through this I met astoundingly honest, passionate people working for the greater good.  I have experienced extreme versions of kindness and have been aw-inspired by the level of thoughtfulness my colleagues and cohort are able to express.  The discipline taught me to dig deeper for root causes and broadened my awareness for political, community, socio-economic, and environmental landscapes.  Despite being the underdog, with an average of 4% total funding support, I gladly accept the perspective gained from this path.

 

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