As 2016 comes to a close, I say “good riddance” to a lousy year. I can’t remember a time in my 49 years on earth when people hated each other so much. Where has all the joy and happiness gone in life? Everyone is just so dammed angry at everything! What do we blame, social media, politics, religion? If we want to blame someone or something, lets place the blame where it should be, with ourselves. We allowed 2016 to get to us, it enraged us and made many of us say and do things we would never have considered in 2015. Friends are no longer friends because of the election, we now look for reasons not to like someone instead of looking to see the joy in an individual even though they may be “different” in belief. We all seem to be moving towards the “Dark Side of the Force.”
It’s time to come to the light, to get inspired and to make change, however small in the “space” that you control in the world. I am going to some post stories of and about people who do just that, love and make positive change in the world around them. Maybe, just maybe some of them will inspire you to make a much needed change in 2017. I want you to remember this, we can all change the world, trust me, I have done it and so can you. My friend Hollister Police Chief David Westrick has some words below that might inspire you to make a difference .
Is Loving Your Fellow Man Still a Thing?
I see hate, despair, evil and intolerance each and every day. I have lived, worked and survived (some may say even flourished) in this environment over 26 years. Exposure to all of that can forge a bitter, depressed and angry person.
Long ago, I made the conscious decision to not let any of that change me or affect me in a negative way. I chose not to hate, but to instead be tolerant, be happy and be positive. I chose to love my fellow humans (and animals) and everything this great world has to offer. I chose to be an example of love as much as I can in life. As anyone knows, love is something that can be easily transferred to others, with very little effort. Love is a choice.
Love is an important concept for us. Love is an emotion, it’s a verb, and it can be a noun and can describe so many different shades of our lives. For me, it’s a choice. I choose to love, rather than hate. In my world, love/tolerance always wins.
Take the example from my work the other day. Four years ago I found out there was a need for food and warm clothing for a local migrant family. I learned they had two small children. It was the beginning of fall and I knew it would be getting cold at night. I turned to social media and quickly organized an effort for food and clothing. I quickly realized that this family also had no furniture, pots & pans or dinnerware. I again went to social media and organized assistance. My little cadre of social media friends and a few fellow employees delivered food, clothing, and bicycles for the kids, pots & pans, dinner and $200 in gift cards for a local grocery store right in time for the holidays. We helped this little family and tears of joy flowed from our group and this little family.
It got me thinking about needing to be more proactive with the needs of our community. After all there could be many more families that have needs. In thinking about it, I realized I needed to focus my efforts on the kids of our community. There was a local food bank that could help with food and there was a local Salvation Army that could help with clothing. There wasn’t a group though, that was helping with kid’s holiday gifts and other needs. I had something to focus on! I have long held a belief that once a child has the opportunity to fall in love with something; be it sports, reading, music or maybe even riding a bicycle, that they will have currency in life that they can use to gain friends, experience and have a destination and dreams as they grow up.
Again leading with the concept of love and being an example of that I was able to connect with like-minded community folks. This lead me to an organization called Turning Wheels 4 Kids turningwheelsforkids.org. I wrote a grant request and Turning Wheels provided 70 bicycle’s and helmets, friends and fellow employees purchased about 10 more bicycles and helmets. My fellow employees and I volunteered our time and found local deserving and in need children in our area through a nomination process and delivered the bicycles right before the holidays. Again tears of joy by those that volunteered and those receiving. Love is easily transferred with very little effort.
My fellow employees have continued to volunteer and continued our relationship with Turning Wheels 4 Kids. As each year passes, love for one another grows in our community. We get as much out of our experience with this project as the kids receiving the bicycles, maybe even more. Our little group does many other things in our community as we have diversified our efforts to help our children in need, but that is another story, for another day.
Remember, love is something that can be easily transferred to others, with very little effort. Love is after all, a choice.
Go out and lead by example. Do something good, even when somebody isn’t watching you or posting about it on social media. Most of all tell and show people, every day, how much they mean to you and how much you love them, it might be something they need to see and hear that day.
Dave Westrick, fellow human being
On the writer - David Westrick is the Chief of Police in the Northern California City of Hollister. He is a 26 year law enforcement veteran. His blog can be found at mychiefthoughts.com. He can be found on Twitter at @chiefwestrick and on facebook.com/chiefwestrick