(Have a head cold today. Medicated but wanted to get some thoughts down inspired by Dylan's writings.)
Donald Trump is now President of the United States. As far fetched as this statement seemed 8 months ago (or even 3 months ago), this is reality today. I have been stunned and saddened by many of President Trumps actions. It's not so much that I differ from him greatly on many issues. It's more about the rise of incivility and the disrespect for people who are minorities / marginalized in society.
The global Women's March inspired a lot of thinking about takeaways post the inauguration and the march.
My thoughtful friend Dylan Houlihan recently wrote on the things he would like to do to be even more welcoming in his own life. (It's great to see Dylan is blogging). I think he has written a really good list. But, I wonder if it's enough. Dylan concentrates his list mostly on what I could call progressive issues and causes. I also support these wholeheartedly. I also wonder if we need to include an appreciation for issues and causes more associated with conservatism. Issues like government regulation and taxation, free trade, and crime / safety?
Taxes is a good example here. As Dylan notes, citizen is a much more expansive (and better, in my opinion) term than taxpayer. But people are concerned about taxes and the ability to pay. People talk to me consistently about high taxes. This is a very authentic and legitimate concern. It doesn't at all mean that these folks don't care about making the community better. It will always be a balancing act.
We don't have to agree with someone to be empathetic. A lot of people who voted for Trump were people who felt left out / disengaged from the economic and political system. In my view, its important to listen across ideologies and viewpoints and to learn from each other. To be in relationship with as many people as possible. If we are truly try to break down some of the partisan divides, we need to embrace the diversity in our communities and countries. We need to do this in a respectful manner.
So, what I would likely add to Dylan's list is the desire to show empathy, learn, and dialogue with others who have very different views.
In July, I completed a one year term as President of my Rotary Club - the Rotary Club of Kamloops. In continuous operation since 1922, our club is one of the oldest community service / fellowship organizations in our community. I don't claim we are better than any of the other 4 Rotary Clubs in operation today in Kamloops. We all do great work. I know our club is built on a very solid foundation and tradition that we continue to try to adapt to meet the changing desires / needs of our members and our community. Often known as the old mans' club, we are no longer, and haven't been for a while.
When I started as President in July 2015, taking over from my friend Sue Porter, I was certainly nervous. I didn't want to screw anything important up. I found the key club operations have a deep and committed group of members who keep things moving, no matter who occupies the role as President. This was very comforting. I was also excited for the opportunities offered by being President. Within the stable foundations of ongoing club operations, our club gives the President quite a bit of latitude to offer direction. I decided to ask the club to focus on membership growth and also initiated our (perhaps renewed?) participation in the Rotary Club of Ottawa's Adventures in Citizenship program for Canadian youth. These initiatives were very gratifying for me and I really appreciated the support of the club.
The picture above is from one of the very best meetings of the year. It is of a membership induction ceremony at which we inducted three new members - all very dynamic and caring female leaders in Kamloops. We had quite a few of these inductions through out my year. I'm again grateful for the many members who sponsored new members into our club.
In becoming President of the Club, I followed in the footsteps of my father, who served as our President in 1997-98. My father passed away in March 2o15 and I became President in July. In some ways, the time commitment was a bit tough sometime. It, however, also kept me quite busy and gave me an added connection to my father. I grieve my father's passing every day and, in meaningful ways, being President of the Club kept me busy and kept the grief more at bay. It also allowed me another meaningful way to continue to connect to his great legacy of service.
Rotary Club Presidents typically turn into pumpkins after a one year term. We have a new President now, my friend Devon O'Toole, and he is doing a fabulous job. I want to give him all the support and freedom I can to have a great year. Being a recently minted Past President feels a bit tricky sometimes. You still want to contribute but you don't want to seem like you are stepping on the new Prez's toes. I have enjoyed a bit of a break from full on Rotary responsibility. I have been a member for almost 16 years and have always enjoyed being engaged and involved in the club. So, I am now starting to think about what that means from the vantage point of being a Past President as well as long time member. There are so many amazing opportunities to serve through Rotary.
Been a tough tough 11 months. Have functioned and had some very good times, indeed. The ever present context these days is that we lost Dad last March. It always hits me hardest on days or moments focused on love. He was an amazing loving father, husband, brother, son, and grandfather.
Long Hall, Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin Ireland
Just got back from a lovely visit to Dublin Ireland. Flew Aer Lingus for the first time (good experience), ran the Rock and Roll Dublin half marathon, toured around Dublin, met great people (notable were the friendly and talkative taxi drivers), ate great food (restaurants seemed to take great pride in their Irish sourced ingredients and their foodie inspired recipes). Good times!