Yesterday, Washington, DC was a rough day for #TheBeingofaNation road trip. I am not sure if it was the day, the temperature, the locations I picked, or the time of day that I chose, but I got more “no” responses than I got “yes” ones. I learned early on in the project to let go of the number of people I am able to talk to and focus on quality over quantity. Yet, when you are tired and a little spent yourself – this can be hard. I was challenged to not get cranky back, and interestingly at my last stop the wind kept blowing off my “BE KIND” banner, as if something was sending me the reminder to keep this at the forefront of my mind.
I texted my brother-in-law’s sister who lives in the city and she texted back, “This city is in a weird place at the moment.” And – you could really feel that. There was a heaviness to it – even more so from when I lived in it 9 years ago. It was palpable. I could feel that weight, so can imagine what it does to those who experience it every day.
One of the women who shared her BE story with me yesterday, offered up the belief that the negativity that we are experiencing in our news and on a national discourse is starting to trickle down into our individual relationships and interactions. Which, in turn, made me think about how much leadership does make a difference to our every day life. It reminded me of a past job where the organization’s leadership team was negative and fighting and in constant disagreement with each other, and how that then created a very negative workplace culture, which ultimately made for a lot of unhappy people. When you are experiencing and living in this type of environment – making the choice to rise above it and live the life you want to live becomes all the more difficult, yet all the more important. This was the reminder I needed so that I could continue to smile and say hello to people even when they looked at me, looked away, kept walking, or screamed, “I don’t have time!”
Before leaving the city I drove around the mall and admired the many buildings and monuments that make DC so very spectacular. They are beautiful, inspiring, and audacious. The capitol sits slightly higher on a hill (hence, Capitol Hill), so it has this powerful presence. I sat and thought about all the Americans who I have had the opportunity to talk to thus far on this road trip, and the many beautiful ways in which they are choosing to BE in the world. And then I thought about the decisions that are made on a day-to-day in this building in front of me and the immense power it holds in affecting the lives of all these people – in both good ways and terribly destructive ways. Which led me to think about the difference in being people-centered vs power-centered, and how I wish to live in a country that is centered on the “of the people, by the people, for the people” principle that the president who sits on the opposite side of the mall so eloquently spoke of 154 years ago.
I want to fight for the people I have met throughout this road trip, my friends, my family, myself, and for those whom I might never meet but need another voice on their side. So, today I called my Senator and sent him a fax because I do not want to see 32 MILLION people lose their healthcare. Let’s reject the negativity that is palpable from our leaders, join together, and choose to fight for each other. Our nation’s BEing depends on it.