Team of rivals

Two myths are circulating that well, maybe the reason for much of the anxiety we feel today. One- that to love someone is to agree with them, or two- that if you disagree, you fear or hate them! Both are irrational and noise created in hope for division.

We see this in action when people take to the streets or issue bold onesided editorials through social media. Watch the next protest to observe how this fairytale plays out. Each viewpoint is locked into their agenda with statements and signs indicating a position. Anyone on the other side is the enemy, called names, and unable to understand or comprehend. Neither side cares what the message is from afar; they merely want to object to the people across from them.

In social media, a political post isn’t placed to begin a collaborative dialog; it is sent as a war cry with the same ambitions. When a diverging opinion is given, they too are the enemy, called names, and unable to understand or comprehend.

I recently read that Susan Rice, a strong consideration as the Vice Presidential candidate on the democrat ticket, has a President Trump-supporting, son John David Rice-Cameron. He may be the most vocal conservative leader on the Stanford campus. He is determined to “Make Stanford Great Again.”  Imagine with me that they well could be found standing on opposite sides of a protest or post.

Yet, while they disagree on most of their political views, they love and respect each other. There isn’t the name-calling, they don’t see each other as an enemy, nor do they believe the other is unable to understand or comprehend. Through their discussions, they know without question, their common bond is a love of our country and that America is the greatest nation in the world. Love and respect aren’t determined through their common views.

When we look at history, we see our successes have come from a diversity of opinions: the greater the variety of view, the more robust the outcome. One size doesn’t fit all. Respectful disagreements foster win-win solutions. No wonder President Lincoln is so revered, he put together a team of rivals.

We need to learn from our rich history and begin to take steps that will allow us to continue making strides once taken, ensuring a better world for everyone.

Jaren

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Learning, feeling, helping

We are going through difficult times today, that is complicated by the restlessness of the pandemic. We can either sit back and wonder or make an effort to understand others’ feelings. I recently enjoyed a Saturday morning on the back porch of a college friend who communicated with me stories I want to share. It was in this simple engagement that I learned the why behind many of the civil protests we are witnessing today.

Imagine your early childhood years in school, sitting with classmates in a comfortable environment, or “in the world” as you know it. One day, your whole life turns upside down, where you are required to relocate to an entirely new school in and area you aren’t familiar with at all. Your new school is across town, in a wealthy neighborhood with children who don’t look like you. You didn’t move but were bused with fellow students to and from the school every day. This is the new normal you will realize throughout the rest of your schooling.

At first, the adjustment was hard as no one asked for the change, moving large groups from one school to another was a directive from community and school leaders who felt integration would end race-based segregation. Children are resilient and able to adapt. They learned about each other’s interests, talents, and personalities becoming friends. In a short time, the lines of difference seemed to fade with students inviting the new arrivals over to play and participate in extracurricular activities.

Now imagine going with these new friends after school to a country club, it is an entirely new experience for you, and with eyes wide open, you are introduced to a new lifestyle never realized before. Just are you are beginning to enjoy yourself, you are told you can’t swim in the pool or eat the same food as your new classmates. In shock, and wondering why you default to the realization that you are in an unwelcoming environment. It isn’t the fault of the friends as they too are dismayed, but the adults who are participating in actions unfamiliar to the children.

If these circumstances catch you off guard, aren’t something you have ever felt, or even suggest a history you haven’t been close to; understand there is more.

Now imagine your family wanting to buy a home in a neighborhood you love to learn you can’t. Your family’s ability to purchase isn’t based on the creditworthiness, income ratios, or job history, but a deed restriction. The limitation is based on the fact the deed to the property limits occupancy by race. Your family isn’t the socially acceptable race and, therefore, unable to purchase the home of your dreams!

I guess that you are in shock as I was as I sat with my friend, who lived through these experiences personally. My friend is Shawn Newell. He is a man of integrity and tremendous wisdom. The insight he gained from his life experiences is one we need today.

Shawn stands as an example of compassion carrying a message of hope. His childhood taught him the value of breaking down barriers. He sees through differences and welcomes diversity. Fortunately, Shawn went onto play football at the University of Utah, then onto play professionally for the Chicago Bears. With his larger than life stature, you may think he would use his physical presence; no. You won’t find him carrying a bull horn, or on the front lines of protests. He fights the battle with relationships one on one or by serving in positions of influence, which include the Utah State Board of Regents, EDCU, and NAACP.

Often messages like Shawns, when shared personally, come across differently then if shared by those who aren’t seen as having an agenda. I solicit those of us who can, to join arms and advocate for understanding, and continued improvement toward equality. I sit on a national committee where our ambitions are to support fair housing. Homeownership is a wealth creator for families that extends generationally. I commit my resources to help where I can. Please, join me in allowing opportunities for all, no matter their station in life.

Bless you, Shawn, your story touched my heart!

Jaren

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A sense of purpose

We have a bright future.

We are living in times of prosperity that have never been seen before in our world history. Innovation is beating world hunger, eliminating poverty, and increasing longevity. Many of us live in societies that are strong economically, politically, culturally, and socially. These fortunes have existed for the entirety of life for many living today. Who wouldn’t agree this is an excellent time to be alive! Yet, in the richness of life, we, too, have developed a sense of entitlement that could erase the momentum history has given us.

It is human nature that when we are bored, lack something significant to champion, or lose a sense of purpose, we misplace interest and begin to fight among ourselves. Often disagreeing over little things, petty things that are made up subconsciously in exchange for something more significant.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the chaos our prosperity has created. We want to triumph, to say, “we did this.” Yet today’s younger groups can’t say that. The Greatest Generation had World War II, England had World War I. We are tribal at our roots; we don’t need war but a catalyst that unites us as a team. Think how cheering on an Olympic athlete or having a championship team in your community brings together groups who typically wouldn’t find common ground.

My great grandmother, Irene Simmons, was born in 1889. At that time, homes were lit by candlelight, and heated by the fireplace. Air conditioning was not even thought of yet. During her life, she saw electricity introduced into everyday use, roadways, and highways built where only trails existed, and unimagined air travel carrying us anywhere in the world. Did anyone in her early life ever think a man would walk on the moon? If you had suggested to anyone in the late eighteen hundreds what she would see in her life, people would think you were crazy!

The future of humanity and the life of the planet is at stake. Civilizations throughout history have perished where there is a lack of imagination. We need dreamers! Their ambitions must be big enough to challenge our entrepreneurial spirit while simultaneously utilizing the power of our economies. We are at a fork in the road; one path will lead to destruction or the other that allows us to stop arguing with one another and champion meaningful things.

For us to succeed—bucking the trend—we must look at the big picture. This requires that we understand history knowing we aren’t perfect, and fantasize over the unknown. On the desks of engineers, scientists, and business is the technology that can solve world hunger, provide clean water, eliminate toxic pollution, and utilize the abundant energies of the future. Let us challenge the paradigms of the past, realizing the dramatic difference made by those who have gone before us.

My great grandmother’s life may seem quick in retrospect, yet it will come even faster in the future. It is on us to ensure that those who are born today will have their grandchildren reflect on the positive changes we made. I know as you read this, your mind has already gone to places where you can help. We need you! Rise up, be the one who is thought to be crazy. Create a ruckus, innovate, produce, and use the talents you have been given. Together, we will lift the human condition now and into a yet unknown safe, and bright future for all.

Jaren

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Makes me cry with pride! Great talent sharing love of country

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You are not alone

A majority of Americans identify as being unhappy today. Eight of ten feel our country is out of control. There aren’t many statistics in life that have reached that high of majority, primarily when it is negative.  Let it settle in that those polled are our neighbors, our friends, and our family.

It may be we come up with excuses as to why. Justifications such as the fact we have suffered from a pandemic with fears of loss, uncertainty, and grief. Or that the shutdown led to an economic crisis with lost jobs, confinement in homes, isolated shortages of products, children pulled from school, and adults unable to go to work. Yet, I think it may be more profound than that!

As life appeared to be improving, we watched a man gunned down in Georgia while jogging, a man asphyxiated by a person in uniform carrying a badge. Then we witnessed a man with a seemingly simple DUI arrest conclude with a shot ending his life. These three men were black. Protests both civil and otherwise arose. The unrest brought to the forefront perceived and real inequities in our justice system. These incidents may have highlighted what has been going on for some time in our country. But, I think it may be more profound than that too!

We used to turn to educational and social institutions, government, media, and leaders for guidance. It was there we gained the hope and clarity we needed as a nation. These institutions no longer seem like a place of unity. An example may be the media. It used to be a place to turn to for some semblance of accuracy in tempering emotion. The freedom the press enjoyed was designed to keep us informed or act as a referee, someone who we may not have always liked but respected. Not so much anymore. However, I think it may be more profound than that as well!

My belief is the unhappiness we feel is due to a modern-day polarization that is occurring with current technologies. We are in an endless tug-of-war with two extremes pulling as hard as they can toward their side. It is constant tension, relentless angst, and continuous agitation. Adding the above factors, no wonder at times the pain is unbearable and people are moved to actions often foreign to our normal lives!

Yet, as a nation, we are far from polarized! The evidence is all around us. We voted for Obama then Trump, we have a Republican Senate and Democrat House. We are split fifty-fifty with only a slight variation to the right or left at any given time.

For our nation to heal, for individuals to find happiness again, we need to meet in the middle.  We can get to the center in two ways, how we are doing it now, with both sides relentlessly pulling, or we can throw down the imaginary rope and walk to the center seeking areas of unity, and consensus. Finding common ground doesn’t suggest forfeiting values, it merely highlights our similarities. It sets aside the fringe elements the media endlessly promotes giving us hope in humanity.

It is up to us to stop the tug-of-war filled with fear for the future that will certainly divide us. It won’t be the institutions that will lead us; there is too much money to be made in conflict. Anger and fear are profitable; unity is not. It is we the people. People of good conscience if we are to emerge from this season of unrest. America is the greatest experiment in world history; we have proven that when we are united, we succeed in filling the earth with goodness and opportunity.

My question to you is whether or not it is worth it? I can tell you it is for me, and I am willing to try. To continue with the learning, growing, and improving, knowing each new day is a chance at making the world a better place. It will make us happy again; we can control our destiny. Bless us to each walk to our common ground, building strength in our diversity and do so enthusiastically while filled with humility.

Jaren

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I wish it were easier

It may be that we can’t begin to imagine what it is like to be the victim of profiling or being unjustly accused of a crime. It may be that we don’t know what it is like to worry about putting food on the table or fighting disability. It may seem as though fairness is unevenly distributed. No matter who we are, it may be that we can’t honestly know what it feels like to be someone else.

That doesn’t mean we don’t care! It doesn’t mean we can’t do our part in seeking justice, maximizing possibility, and making influences where needed. It may seem daunting at times, but that is when it is needed the most. It is the media that is maximizing differences at a time we should rejoice in our similarities.

Organizations and governments are nothing but people. It is on us to come together. We will never regret offering people the chance to be treated the way we’d like to be treated. It goes around. It is the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.

Jaren

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Together we are stronger!

I believe it is our nature to shy away from problems when they appear too large. We may feel a sense that there isn’t enough time or resources to make them go away. Yet, when we look back and realize the many difficulties we have overcome, we see that our success came from tackling small parts over time. There isn’t anything we can’t do if we take it step by step and are persistent in moving in a positive direction. While today’s troubles seem daunting, I hope each one of us works toward common goals of improving one day, one person, one opportunity at a time.

Jaren

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One touch, better life

Think with me for a minute about the times you most enjoyed your interactions with others. If they are like mine, it is when you come across someone kind, someone honest, someone patient, or someone filled with empathy. Are you one that others may have thought about when asked for your reflection above? I hope we all are; it is what makes our world a better place. They are simple, ordinary everyday human touches that will shape our future.

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Standby list

When someone asks how you are doing, is your reply fine? When we answer in this way, we are telling ourselves the same thing! Why we would accept fine when we can be so much more.

Are you aware that for us to accomplish an ideal, a dream, a hope, we need no more energy than what is required to get out of bed when the alarm goes off? Think when you push the snooze button, you accept that you aren’t willing to do what you had hoped for when you set the alarm. If, on the other hand, you get right out and going about your day, you have succeeded in meeting an expectation.

Now, with the understanding of the small energy required to start on your path to success, you need only understand one more tip. Success doesn’t always come on our first try. Have you ever flown standby on an airline? Some who are fortunate can get on the first flight; they have more status (experience) than others and move onto the plane right away. Yet, all who are willing to wait (keep trying) will eventually get on the plane.

When you commit to using the small amount of energy needed to accomplish your goal, just remember, you may need to do it a few times to get the desired outcome. It will always come to those who are willing to wait for their turn.

Jaren

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