This time of year, it’s important to understand diversity and, even better, to celebrate humankind.
While it seems we live in a small, rural and somewhat homogeneous area, we really live in a huge, interconnected, divergent and global world. Just think about your relationships, your family, your friends and you can probably trace connections across the country and around the world.
The more I live and the more I read, the more I realize how blessed we are as people – whether from Pine River, Backus or Minneapolis – to live among amazing, talented and creative individuals. And, we’re living during times when the sky’s the limit and our imaginations run freely.
There have always been great, creative people. So many have laid the groundwork for us today, from the pyramids to China’s Forbidden City to today’s World Trade Center – which is the tallest building in the United States of America. Architects – or their predecessors – designed and oversaw the completion of these feats.
How about our artists, from visual artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Pablo Picasso to classical musicians to the Beatles. How rich our lives and world are because of their creative genius.
Consider explorers – those that sought to understand the corners of the Earth and those who take on space exploration. Who among us is not grateful for our research scientists – particularly medical experts who have extended our lives and ensured quality living?
Even lawyers and politicians have paved the way with laws and processes that aspire to all people being treated equally and fairly. What thoughtful people came together to agree on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
You see greatness comes in all shapes, sizes and colors, and greatness itself can be realized from the most prominent individual to you and me.
How do we achieve greatness or at least lay the groundwork to continue to evolve in a productive, artistic, scientific and fair way? Probably most importantly, through education and teaching all learners that maybe the sky is the limit and you have to let your imagination soar.
Teaching basic skills and understanding the world as we know it is also part of greatness. We do this at school with our children every day! We invite you – parents and the greater community – to join us in these pursuits, whether by taking Community Education or higher education classes/programs, or even by enriching your personal knowledge and experiences on your own.
Learning is never done; growing is always an opportunity, and we are all part of something bigger.
With all this possibility, I found one value that enhances everyone and I challenge us all to consider using it — kindness. All year long, but especially now, be kind. This skill comes so naturally to some. Others need to be more purposeful.
Make the world a safe and comfortable place for all people regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Bullying and “hate speech” are not acceptable. It is up to individuals – teachers, parents, and ordinary citizens – to become involved and stop the spread of bigotry, hate speech and negativism. Being kind is an effective way to positively reach all people.
The Internet is another one of those outstanding human achievements. And like others, it has the potential for good and bad. It’s up to us to set the tone for goodness, kindness and greatness. I believe each one of us can do it and that each one of us contributes to our positive accomplishments.
My very best for a wonderful New Year to all!