With daily headlines designed to provoke strong emotion rather than truth, it is not surprising that people with opposing views would be offended. We hear of the division between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, citizens and illegal immigrants, whether or not to build a wall, provide national healthcare, or manage crime.
If we believe the headlines and their claims of imminent doom, promoting peace and conflict resolution may be one of the greatest legacies we could instill in our children. February is the month that Rotarians across the world will be focused on promoting peace and conflict resolution. Each of us, as citizens in this community we call home, can be part of the solution.
I have mentioned before that I remember as a child being afraid that the Soviets and America were going to blow each other apart with nuclear weapons. Since I was only six, I did not know that I was picking up on what is known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I do remember drills in school where we had to get under our desks and cover our heads with our coats (like it would help). My fear was real, and John F. Kennedy said, “We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or make it the last.” These prophetic words continue to be true. There are several times in history where we have been on the brink of annihilation, and level heads have prevailed as the leaders we needed came along and encouraged us to be better versions of ourselves.
Just like we use fire drills to prepare for emergency situations, we should prepare ourselves to think calmly when the headlines are predicting their “Chicken Little” versions of disaster. With President’s Day upon us, it seems fitting to quote some of our Presidents without considering their political party:
John F. Kennedy – “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Thomas Jefferson – “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
James Garfield – “There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.”
Theodore Roosevelt – “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower – “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking…is freedom.”
Ronald Reagan – “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”
Barack Obama – “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope; you will fill yourself with hope.”
Over the next few months, the Rotary Club of Lawrenceville will be seeking four high school seniors from Lawrenceville high schools who are making a difference in our community. Help us get the word out to inspirational young people so they can apply for a $500 scholarship to use toward college expenses.
If you are a person of faith, this is the time to pray for our country, our leaders and our communities. We may think differently, but we can find common ground if we listen and respect each other as we work together to solve serious problems. I have such faith in this community and believe each of you can inspire hope in a neighbor or someone else in need. I would love to hear what you accomplish.
Leigh is a proud Rotarian and CEO of Creative Enterprises, Inc., a not for profit, training, and employment, community rehabilitation program for adults with disabilities. A lifelong resident of Gwinnett County, Leigh divides her time between advocating for people with disabilities, enjoying her children, grandchildren and friends, helping her doTerra essential oil customers, traveling, and focusing on her spiritual journey to appreciate how we are all connected.