I haven’t written in many months. Will I even be able to log on to my ChicagoNow account? Do I still have one?
There are so many things to write about. I could write about the GOP tax plan and how I my tax bill will go up. I could write about how Trump’s core constituency may rejoice in getting an extra $100 a year so the millionaire/billionaire class can save millions.
I could write about fear: Fear of North Korea and nuclear war breaking out. Not that I’m okay with conventional warfare, but conventional warfare happens on a battlefield far away. We have an ability to ignore conventional warfare because, selfishly, it won’t affect my family. That ability to ignore disappears when we talk about nuclear warfare.
I could write about how I don’t trust our president to navigate the North Korean threat. I’m not nervous about the president’s inability to navigate the threat; I’m frightened by it. If Trump was president during the Cuban missile crisis, would we be here?
I could write about Charlottesville and how I, as a black man, am made to feel that I am part of a larger problem by this Administration. We could discuss the normalization of racism. That as long as I hold my hat in hand and say “yes sir” to people with “Make America Great Again” hats on their heads, I’ll be left alone. I won’t be trusted, but as long as I know my place I may be left alone.
Until they come for me.
There is so much negativity out there, it’s tough not to not be negative. Devastating floods and hurricanes, constant chaos provided by gun violence, sexual harassment, normalizing racism, the political chaos in Washington, it all gets to be too much.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go to my five-year-old daughter’s school. I got to do a reading lesson with her and her class. When I walked into her room, my daughter yelled “daddy!!!” ran over and gave me a big hug. During the 35-minute lesson, she sat on my right, draped over my leg, proud that he father was in the room with her. When it was time to leave she beamed: “that’s MY daddy!” I left the class with my heart full.
My wife is out of town for a meeting, so I got the kids ready for school today which is an adventure. I’m typically nearing my office when they get out of bed, so making them presentable for school is completely outside of my routine. During the chaos, my eight-year-old son comes downstairs having broken open his piggy bank. He is putting together $5.00 for a girl in his class who clearly outwitted him. He has a bunch of change, some pesos and some singles to pay off this debt. On Wednesday, he had to give her 10 cents or he would have to tell the class his crush. Apparently, he was late with his payment so 10 cents went up to 20. He had to pay the vig, right? After paying 20 cents yesterday, he now has to come up with $5.00, otherwise he has to tell the class five crushes. My poor son is clearly being outmaneuvered. I put his money away, gave him a dollar and told him to negotiate a better deal.
I write this from my home office with the sun shining on my face. I’ll work from here, do a videoconference this afternoon and pick my daughter up from school for gymnastics. We’ll then pick up my son and the three of us will have dinner. Maybe Amy will make it home for the tail end.
We are fortunate. We have food in the cupboard, a warm house and a dry place to sleep. We have each other. We have our neighbors and a community that looks out for one another. We have good careers that fulfill and provide flexibility.
We are fortunate.
We worked very, very hard for this good fortune. And we continue to work hard for it. Amy and I know this life wasn’t handed to us. Our families provided us opportunity and education and we were able to carve out a nice life. Maybe that what makes the sun on my skin feel a little warmer; my five-year-old’s hug a little tighter; my smile at my son’s horrific negotiating skills fuller.
I choose to keep the sun on my face. I can turn on the television and feel hate, rage, and fear; but what good does that do for me? What good does that do for my family?
There is plenty of good out there. There are plenty of people helping each other. There are plenty of stories that will warm our insides with hope and love rather than fear and anger.
Should we ignore the threats on our collective good fortune?
No; we must not be quiet when we see injustice. We have to keep each other accountable.
Yet, if we only look for injustice that is all we will see. If I go through my life looking for examples of racism day-in and day-out, I’ll be exhausted with what I find. My world will become a very dark place.
And I’ll lose the beauty that’s out here. The sun on my face, the love of a child for her father, the funny desperation of an eight-year-old counting our pesos to pay down a “debt” that shouldn’t exist. This are all fun and good things.
Could I look at that as bullying? Could I look at being in my daughter’s classroom at 11am as taking me away from “important” work? Perhaps.
But the work isn’t that important. It was able to wait until I got to the office. The important thing was being a father to my daughter.
Just like the important thing is to be better. We are reminded of it during the holiday season, but being inundated with negativity on television and the internet, we forget. We forget to be good to each other.
Remember that today.