I’m sitting at a camp for special needs kids – yes, I’m a parent, twice-over, of kids with severe medical issues. That’s the reason I’m here but the reason I’m writing is because there is something magical in this place. This is a place where people put aside their differences – beliefs, politics, preferences, color, age, gender, and yes, including and especially their medical challenges – and take part in a weekend of pure fun, pure joy, pure freedom. Why is this important? In World War Z, there is a part where a young doctor goes into an annihilated area to determine why some people have managed to live, in spite of the devastating illness that has overtaken the world. His point was:
Don’t study a virus as it is spreading, study where it isn’t and you will see the combination of elements needed to combat it.
Stated another way, find what’s working and do more of it! This is not only useful in finding cures in medicine, it’s also useful in recognizing where people can change behavior. When I used to see patients, I was often told by many of them something along the lines of, “I just have to act this way.” And I frequently made the same statement – it was a simple statement – but one rarely uttered by a therapist and certainly not frequently said to a person seeking help. The statement was, “Bulls&*%.” I almost took joy in the startled look I predictably got…every time. People expect therapists to be sweet and nice and while I would describe myself as that, there is nothing sweet, nice, or caring about letting someone continue to tell themselves a story that is a lie when it is hindering their ability to function.
So now I say to our nation, to our people, with deep love and respect, “Bulls&*%.” I don’t believe that we are incapable of getting along. I don’t believe that we are incapable of controlling our emotions. I don’t believe we are incapable of seeing others’ points of view. I think when we tell ourselves that fallacy, we give ourselves permission to degrade others in order to build up ourselves.
We know better. We can do better. We should expect better from ourselves.
Now the right question is….In this utopian camp for children with severe illnesses, what can we learn? What can they teach us?
I observe and ask myself, “Why are people so willing here? So interested in being happy? So acquiescent to play well with others? And most importantly, how do we replicate that feeling and expand it to scale?”
I’ve decided that the secret recipe is this:
Create a place where everyone feels valued, needed, and free – and you will see people who respond with joy, compassion, hope, and be inspired to achieve higher than they ever thought possible!
Now let’s bring this feeling, this inspiration to our people, to our Nation…I’ve got a few ideas 😉
To be continued…..