The most important priority in my life, my family has been going great this year. We welcomed my second son Ethan into our lives, and he has brought our family closer together. While there are challenges with two children, the continued strength of the partnership I have with my wife, Diana has made the difficult manageable. I would not be the proud father and husband without her support.
Professionally, my role at my school has evolved with the honor to serve as one of the school Diversity, Equity, & inclusion chairs. This position has put me in the room where it happens, which has allowed me to grow as a professional and a human being. The work is hard, and it is taking me to places that I am unsure of how to handle, but it’s exciting work, and is truly essential.
The 45th has been a constant reminder of what is wrong in our country, and how much work we have to do. When it seems that he could not embarrass our country any more he sinks to a new low. He serves as an example of everything I dislike about masculinity, and capitalism. With every move that he makes, it’s a question to me about whether my feelings are a reflection of my own insecurities. Sometimes it is, but more often than not, it’s simply a confirmation of the strength of my moral character, and the quality of the different facets of my identity.
Too many people died in ways that could have prevented, whether was through gun violence like the shooting in Las Vegas or the hurricanes that ripped through the southern part of our country and Puerto Rico. We could have done better in the planning of cities like Houston, and we could have done more before and after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico. The government’s response to helping Puerto Rico, feels as tepid as our progress against gun violence. We can do better, we must do better. There is great shame in our country in the inequity among the citizens of our country.
There was inspiring moments of strength. Women across the country spoke out against men who sexually assaulted and/or raped them. Individuals like the Doctor who delivered Ethan, perform amazing feats of humanity, and care every single day. Many citizens decided that they needed to vote, and more refused to vote based on fear, but rather on hope. The self-fulfilling pessimism that a government could not be effective, so it must be dismantled, is starting give way to the optimism of those who refuse to give up their belief in change. These are citizens who vote, and are running for positions in every level of government, many of whom are racial minorities, and women.
I’ve been telling my students about the power they wield. They can be minus signs who take away from other’s experiences. This is unacceptable. They can be an equal sign who don’t do anything to actively hurt others, and work to maintain the status quo. This is also unacceptable. Or they can be a plus sign, and seek out ways to make people’s lives better through kindness, understanding, strength, persistence, and determination. This past year, I’ve gotten closer than ever to being a plus sign, but there’s more I could have done, and more that I can do. This is not a statement of regret, but one of motivation, and inspiration.
The two most important things I’ve learned this year is that:
1. Everyone has as story. This is something that I knew before but it became an essential way of looking at people, issues, and the world this past year. It’s a lesson that relies on patience, and grows empathy.
2. Serenity is overrated. I’ve learned is the flaw in the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. This prayer states:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,For too long people have learned to accept things that should not have. If accepting things that others view as unchangeable brings serenity, than I don’t want it. Instead, I say, please grant me the courage to question and reimagine the things that others believe cannot change, but must change to make a more equitable society. The wisdom to see and nurture change in others and the serenity that comes from knowing that I’ve fought for what is right.
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.