As the year wraps up, I find myself missing some of the Christmas joy I usually have. I see hypocrisy and double standards running rampant in the world, and the depressing drivel that the mainstream press spits out seems to have succeeded (for once) in putting a damper on my spirits. In the back of my mind I can hear a question playing over and over: "Can't we all just get along?"
So, knowing that we go where we're focused, I decided to put my mind to work and think about what I want to see instead. The result is what follows: My "wish list." Albeit a tad philosophical, perhaps it may help others who might be experiencing a similar Scrooge-like funk to focus on a few important things, too.
1. Get the millennial generation prepared for success. Recently I came across some statistics that were put out in 1995 by William Galston, the White House domestic-policy advisor under President Clinton. Granted, these stats are 10 years old, but Galston said that of those who: (a) graduate high school, (b) get married before having children, and (c) wait until they're at least 20 years old to have children, only eight percent wind up in poverty.
Amazingly, Galston also said that of those who fail to make those three choices, 79 percent wind up in poverty. If what Galston says is true, my first wish for the New Year would be that our younger people take these statistics to heart. These people truly are our future.
2. Get racism erased. In keeping with the truism that we go where we're focused, so long as people focus on race and skin color, we're going to have a difficult time capitalizing on our strengths.
One of the best-intended but poorly-stated phrases in this arena is "strength through diversity." The word diversity is rooted in the word division, and I don't know about you, but the last time I took a whole and divided into parts, it did not become stronger. I believe a better mindset is "strength through valuing our differences." It's not as good a sound bite, but it sure provides a clearer - and I think better - path of action.
Sports announcer Bob Costas, in an interview with former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, says "Justice, truth, [and] decency are higher values than race." I wish we could deal with those focuses rather than race focuses.
3. Get people to listen more. It never fails. I have yet to conduct a class on Emotional Intelligence, or listening, or seeking first to understand and have all the participants nod their heads that they do, in fact, realize the importance of listening to others. Yet when it comes down to the practicum - the in-class exercise where they demonstrate their ability to listen - everyone fails miserably on the first round.
It seems that everyone wants to be heard first. The problem? If everyone is trying to be heard and understood, then nobody is listening and trying to understand. The ripple-effects are frustration, blame, and, well, the list goes on.
To listen first and truly understand somebody doesn't mean that we're never going to get our say. It just means we have more patience! But listening to understand doesn't come naturally. We have to work on it. I wish more people would work on it.
There's my wish list. As one year ends and another begins, maybe you have a wish list of your own. If not, now might be a good time to reflect on what is truly important.
The truth is that our work spills over into our personal lives, and our personal lives spill over into our work lives. What you find important in one will certainly affect the other.
By the way, I also wish that genuine peace touch each of us. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you celebrate. At the bottom of it all, is peace.