Hollywood, Florida, USA
Member of the Idealists of the World Facebook group since June 2018
When did you realize that you were an idealist? What moment or event sparked your desire to make the world a better place?
I never thought about whether or not I was an idealist until a former colleague invited me to join Idealists of the World.
As far back as I can remember I wanted the world to be a better place. Born in 1938, my earliest memories were of The War. Fortunately for me, I was in New Jersey. We had blackouts and air raid wardens. Searchlights swept the sky. My uncle and cousins went off to war. In school, we collected newspapers and tin cans.
All the people I knew were united in the war effort. How different from the divisions that exist today! In union there is strength (Idealists!).
But I was spared from living the horrors I saw in the newsreels at the movies. I was afraid for, and worried about, the people who were in those places.
Things got better as I got older, but I had new concerns. The Cold War, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, radiation. The Earth and its people were threatened by poisons and pollution. Some species were in danger of extinction. But there were hopeful events, too. Catalytic converters, the use of tobacco went way down, polio was conquered, recycling became popular. We became aware of how Nature was being abused, and how we need to protect the Earth and its inhabitants.
What is one simple thing anyone can do to have an impact in the world?
BE KIND TO EVERYONE.
Promote and foster empathy in yourself and others, instill it in your children and any children you can influence. “Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes.” Learn about other cultures through social studies, anthropology, and travel. See what life looks like from different perspectives. Kindness comes from being able to relate to all people.
Have patience. People will irritate you, stress you, mistreat you, make you angry. Cut them some slack. They may be having a horrible day. Responding with kindness could hit their Reset button and turn things around.
What keeps you optimistic, hopeful, and motivated?
It’s the way I was raised. My parents and big brother were cheerful and optimistic. Our home was a place of laughter and singing. We were taught to see the bright side.
Do you believe idealism is learned or is it inside of everyone?
I spent a lot of time pondering this question. I would like to be able to say every baby arrives as a blank slate, but there are certain traits that are inherited with the DNA. Some traits are more positive than others. That said, I don’t accept that anyone is born inherently evil! Just that some people will come to idealism more easily than others, by nature.
So my answer would be idealism is learned. I believe it can be learned by anyone who is fortunate enough to have good mentors early in life; be they parents, teachers, friends, or others they admire enough to emulate.
There is the problem of inherited negative traits being reinforced by the family members from whom they were inherited. An example of such negative reinforcement: I have a great grandchild in preschool who is being bullied by a boy in her class. Her mother spoke to the teacher and the boy’s mother. The mother’s answer was “He does that because his big brother does it to him.”
We idealists should see this as a challenge! We may counteract negative traits in children by positive intervention. We can try to be the good mentor and have a positive effect on the path of that child’s life. If we succeed that child will have a happier life, and so will countless others that boy will deal with in the course of his life.
What’s one thing you’ve done—big or small—that you are most proud of?
The big thing is the good people our children grew up to be, but that was not something I did alone, so I will go with the small thing:
In 8th grade, at the junior high completion ceremony, I was awarded the DAR Good Citizenship Medal. I was stunned when they called my name! I had no idea (and I never found out) what I had done to come to the attention of the nominating committee. In fact, I wasn’t even aware there was such a medal. But I was profoundly honored to walk to the stage and accept it.
I still wonder why they chose me. What did I do to be selected? Anyway, I think not knowing was a good thing. To this day I strive to be a good citizen of the world, however I can. I don’t know what I did that brought me the honor I am so proud of (“grateful” is a word that applies as well) for the influence it had on my life. It is a good thing to give a child a self image he or she can be proud of and live up to.
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