I’ll admit – I struggled on the Fourth of July. I’m a “matcher”. I like it when things work, when they fit together, when all makes sense in the universe. And for the life of me, right now some things aren’t matching up – specifically, basic concepts I teach kids with the reality of our societal behaviors.

Before I go any further, let me clarify – this rant is not directed at a political party, individual person, or specific issue we are facing. It’s about Behavior 101. It’s about who we are collectively. It’s about personal reflection.

I spend my workdays teaching young kids many lessons:

  • Treat others respectfully, the way you would want to be treated.
  • Assume positive intent, looking for the good in others.
  • When disagreeing, choose a path of empathy rather than judgment.

I also teach about citizenship – citizens being people who work, live, or go to school together in a shared community.

So, on our civic holiday I reflected on several questions: Do we really work together? Do we function in community? Are we really, as our name implies, United? And ultimately, are our shared values [and yes, we do have them] reflected in our behaviors?

We can’t control the behavior of others, or the news/media which I believe oftentimes hyper-focuses on … hype. However, we can control the words that come out of our mouths, the posts we choose to ignore rather than forward, and our attitudes.

As for me, I choose to celebrate our potential. I know, as a nation, we are strong. We can move to a good place, but in order for that to happen we each need to continually make conscious choices to focus more on what unites us, rather than divides us.