I have a friend whose dad is a bully. A real jerk. He blazes a path to The Land Of Whatever I Want, burning the ground around him and leaving others to clean up the mess.
But my friend isn't like his dad. He chose a way around the nuclear wasteland his father left behind him. He chose a different trail, one of kindness and courtesy.
I have a friend whose mom is cruel. She uses words as warheads, bombing others' hearts and feelings. Her anger cuts deeply and leaves scars.
But my friend isn't like her mom. Although the weapon-wielding of words would feel easy and natural in her mouth, she closes it. She waits. She weighs. She considers.
I have a friend whose boss is a dictator, an amalgamation of every bad-boss movie you've ever cringed your way through. The boss who Scrooges his way through Christmas and tramples on your vacation plans and fires and rehires with the finesse of a tantrum-throwing toddler.
But my friend isn't like her boss. My friend tightropes the delicate line of respect and chain of command and keeps her integrity as close as a balancing pole in her grip.
We don't have to reproduce what we are handed. We don't have to let the trickle-down trickle down.
We can disagree with the dads and moms and bosses and bullies. We can practice the most important job of multitasking we've ever been called upon to do: Showing respect where none has been shown to us and spreading it around by the truckload even if nobody filled up that truck for us.
We can. And today, we must. We are not our genetics. We are not our politics. We are humans in need of empathy. We are hope-givers and compassion-sharers.
We are motivated, not by fear, but by love and commitment to another way, a way around the unkind and the unjust. A better way, not because it is newer and slicker, but because it lifts up the lowest and binds up the most broken. Let's trod this way today.
"Humankindness is overflowing. And I think it's gonna rain today." Randy Newman