Today was a bittersweet day, where every impressionable moment of President Obama and his first family filled our news feeds, news channels and magazine covers… if you type their names in Google, among the top 3 searches are “what are the Obama’s doing today?” I suppose as a nation we are intrigued by their transition from the highest office in the nation to a civilian life….and a little perplexed and timid about what the next 4 years may bring to our country and how it might affect our lives.
I started to contemplate all these events and reflect on a recent visit to D.C. in which I fell in absolute love with the city. It’s historic charm, magnificent Greek inspired architecture, incredible public transportation system, impeccably dressed people whose walk reflect their vision and the wide spectrum of diversity present were a few of things that enticed me. You see, while I was there, even amid the Trump paraphernalia already being sold and the blocked view of the White House as they prepared for the inauguration, I was reminded of the goodness of people and the fact that what will truly shape our lives have everything to do with the character of people; their kindness and their ability to love instead of hate and breed intolerance.
A few times random strangers in the beautiful city of D.C. wowed me with their character:
1) The security in front of the White House who were kind enough to show us the best spot for getting the best picture in spite of the construction that was happening for the parade.
2) The lady on the train going home at 9 pm who chatted with us the entire time and helped us find our stop.
3) The subway station officer who held the hand of my 3 year old and took him down the escalator when he was too reluctant to get on.
4) The homeless man who was sleeping on the cold concrete outside an outdoor elevator at the metro station but who would get up to push the button, hold the door and smile every time he saw someone.
5) The hotel staff who willingly let us use the executive lounge every night.
6) The man rushing home in 40 degree weather who stopped and gave us directions and never acted as though he was in a hurry.
7) All the visible Muslims who were cheery and said “Salaam”
8) The Valet worker whose service we didn’t use but who helped me clean my car.
9) The people who stopped and offered to take family pictures for us.
10) The smiles and chit chats from just about everyone we encountered- I was extremely surprised that in the train, coffee shops and restaurants most people did not have their heads stuck inside a smart phone but rather, were open to conversing.
There were so many more instances that even my young kids remarked at how kind every one was. Tonight as I get ready to end my day, I remind myself that leaders are dispensable and will come and go each term but even in the city that will be home to a man many disagree with; we can all agree that the light of kindness shines bright!
I also remind myself of a promise I made back in November: I refuse to one day tell my children that the notion of everything America stands for was lost on November 9th, 2016. Instead I will teach them how to be better citizens, form peaceful negotiations and more importantly be tolerant and accepting of everyone they meet.
Please be the change you wish to see in the world, myself first.