I don’t know what to say about 2016 other than a lot of freaky things went down. There were so many big celebs who died — David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Carrie Fisher, John Glenn, Harper Lee, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Alan Thicke, Elie Wiesel — and many others that made such indelible imprints in my life and in American culture. (I may have to do another post to memorialize my favorites and walk down memory lane, but I’ll save that for another day.)

celeb deaths

If all that wasn’t tragic enough, the Red Sox didn’t make it to the World Series. So then I rooted for the Chicago Cubs, who had to endure a crazy long curse and hadn’t won the World Series since 1908 — before they even played at Wrigley Field. I especially wanted to cheer them on since David Ross, their catcher, used to be with the Red Sox, and it was his final year (although I would’ve preferred seeing David Ortiz, aka “Big Papi,” win it right before his retirement). I cheered and shouted when they won, and it was good to have something to cheer about.

ross
David Ross, the retiring catcher, is pictured on the right.

cubs
Things change in a little over 100 years.

goat curse
This picture with Bill Murray is priceless; check out his T-shirt:  I ain’t afraid of no goat! I heard he gave a ticket to someone outside to sit beside him who he didn’t even know. Now that is a kind gesture!

cubs back to future

It would have been cooler for the Cubs to have won in 2015 though as “Back to the Future:  Part II” predicted. That would be sweeter than owning a DeLorean time machine! Maybe not.

trump and hillary

Then something really freaky happened that felt like an ongoing nightmare — the endless campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I really disliked the way Trump used the bully pulpit to get the nomination, and oh man, the insults and rants and tantrums kept coming. I had concerns about Hillary too and really did not want the Clintons back in the White House; I would’ve preferred Bernie. However, I would rather know what I’m dealing with, and the Donald was a HUUUGGE wild card. His twitter rants reminded me of my son’s tantrums when I take away his tablet and he shouts out as if the world is coming to an end. I did not like his inability to demonstrate self-control or respect to so many around him even during national debates. Really, I thought, is this what it has boiled down to for our choices as president? How did this happen America??!! Then Trump won. I was just relieved the election was over. Then the marches began, and I can see why.

I am concerned about people shouting and reacting to each other and not listening. I am saddened that people are attacking others as Trump attacked his opponents in the debates. I am disappointed that fear and distrust has replaced basic tolerance and kindness. Our children deserve better, and while everyone must accept that Donald J. Trump is president of our nation, that doesn’t mean his opponents should not be heard nor that there are no legitimate concerns. When people from seven nations have been banned to enter the United States of America and the refugee program has been sidelined, we’re talking about discrimination.

I want Americans to remember that he may be president, but we do not have to be like him. We can choose to follow the Golden Rule with all we come in contact with, even those who disagree with us. We can listen to each other. We can care about each other. We can work in UNITY to improve our country. I am grateful that I live in a nation with a peaceful transfer of power, and I am thankful that we have the freedom to voice opposition and to hold our leaders accountable for their decisions. I do hope Trump will improve the economy and bring more jobs for Americans. I do not see his presidency as hopeless, but his tactics and executive orders are troubling, and it’s only a couple of weeks into his presidency.

I have no association with Trump and have little desire to, and I know I may not do anything in my life to warrant a headline. What I care about most is my family, and I desire to influence my children to be better than the adults they witness on the national stage. I love the song by Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All,” that says, “I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way.” This is why we can’t let our differences make our neighborhoods unravel; we need to show our children a better way. Then someday they can be the leaders we wish we have now.

kindness book

I got a book for Christmas called “The Kindness Challenge” by Shaunti Feldhahn. I think a book such as this or about random acts of kindness would be more beneficial for high school teens to read than “Lord of the Flies.” (I know, it’s a classic, but if we’re talking about desirable outcomes, then which would you prefer? Seriously.) Feldhahn gives a thirty-day kindness challenge that involves three basic parts to apply to a relationship:  say nothing negative about your person, either to them or about them; every day, find one thing you can praise and tell them and someone else; and finally, do a small act of kindness for your person every day. It may not seem like much, but I know choosing kindness and acting upon it can change everything.

wonder book

I got a book for my 13-year-old son for Christmas that is called “365 Days of Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, who wrote “Wonder.” My son really liked that book, and this one is not a work of fiction. It contains, as it says on his cover, “A quote for every day of the year about courage, friendship, love, and kindness.” I love the quote that prefaces the months of the year:  “Teach him then the sayings of the past, so that he may become a good example for the children. . . . No one is born wise.” — The Maxims of Ptahhotep, 2200 BC. I have loved the quotes we read each day, and it has even given me the desire to find out more about those who are quoted here and to dig into history. Here are a few quotes about kindness we read this past month:

“Three things in life are important:  The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”  — Henry James

“Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” — Annie Lennox

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop

“Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.” — Seneca

How awesome would it be to live in a society where kindness was more important than fame or fortune? Where people cared more about how kind and wise you can be more than your athletic skills or your vocal talent? My hope for my children is that they will value kindness. I know they are bright, and I have told them many times that it is more important to be kind than smart. My hope for my country is that we will see past the outward show that many obsess over and create a culture of kindness. My wish is for Americans to remember deep down we are all more alike than we are different. As Henry Burton said, “Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on.” Amen!