Thursday, November 10, 2016

Guest Post - What Can I Do...

Philip Marshall, a friend and co-worker, shared his thoughts on the election outcomes yesterday. I am honored to share them with you here.

I’ve been trying to think what it’s like today to be a Muslim, disabled, Hispanic, woman or other person with a nationality, religious beliefs, origin or background to whom Donald Trump has been disingenuous. I can hardly imagine.

What I can imagine is making sure that I make eye contact, smile, acknowledge and engage every person who may undoubtedly feel uncomfortable in their own skin. I can and should do this anyway. I want them to feel, with every interaction, that they are welcome and just as much a part of my America as I am. They might be a surgeon, attorney, coffee barrister or someone I meet at an event, in a store or at work.

What I believe is that most people want to do good, want to contribute and want to make me feel connected to them in at least some small way. We’re all in this together and my belief is that it’s a very small world. Someone I hold a door for today may very well save my life down the road. Wouldn’t it be great if when they’re helping me that they remember that I was the nice guy who smiled, took a minute to connect and left them feeling a part of my world as opposed to feeling shunned by it.

Unless you’re of Native American descent, it’s likely that your parents, grandparents, or some distant relative journeyed here. Perhaps their reason for coming was that they were persecuted in a foreign land. They likely braved a long trip by ship or endured horrendous conditions on barely passable roads. And when they arrived, they may not have been treated well. It wasn’t easy. Don’t you think they’d be pleased to see you reach out to strangers, many of whom are petrified of this new land and its diverse people?

Now more than ever it’s time to embrace people who seem unlike ourselves rather than be predetermined to hate. This world can become a better place, not by building walls, but by tearing them down. As Isaac Newton said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” So I’m going to smile, hold out my hand, look a stranger in the eye, and envision a world in which with each persons’ contributions, we all thrive. In the words of the great American poet Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I want them to feel like they’re home.