Wisdom, Age, and Time

The United States of America and I share birthdays. This Saturday, we will each become a year older. Will we also be a year wiser? I hope so, but sometimes I wonder.

I have spent my adult life working on inclusivity particularly of the most vulnerable: those with special needs and disability. I spent the last five years in Saudi Arabia. When I arrived there, I felt isolated in my new home within a strange new world. I did not have good means to communicate with the outside world because, at first, I did not have a Saudi cell phone and the WIFI in the house was erratic . My choices were to complain, or to quit and go home without accomplishing any of the personal goals that I discussed with my husband before leaving the U.S., or to remain positive, use my grit and energy to persevere and find a way. I chose the latter option and 5 years later I left having accomplished all my dreams and having touched so many others along the way as evident from the beautiful words that are sent to me daily thanking me for the “culture” I infused into the organization and their personal lives.

As I return to the US, I find my country much more polarized than when I left. My personal experience taught me not to be dogmatic and intransigent. I believe that we all need to be more open to those around us and take additional effort to value, appreciate, and respect others; listen for understanding; communicate authentically with collaborative compassion; and treat everyone with dignity. We cannot undo the social injustices and wrongs of the past. All that we can do is try to look at past mistakes with self-compassion and kindness and to learn and grow from them in order to shine brighter in the future. It is not all right to repeat a mistake and just say, “sorry”. We all are responsible and need to hold ourselves accountable. The world needs us to take action now. We can choose and must choose to resolve our differences in a respectful and dignified manner. Will we try? As I become a year older, I pledge to keep on trying and causing a ripple effect. Happy Fourth of July to all and Happy Birthday to my country.