Thursday, June 14, 2012

Isn't that Special?

I am a fan of the Sunday Morning Show on CBS.  I grab my cup of coffee, the Boston Globe Magazine and watch the program with Bill...and I often learn something new.  Sometimes we have lively discussions about the segments...and I love the closing piece about wildlife in America...ah.

A while back, Simon Baker, the actor who stars in The Mentalist, was being interviewed about living and working in the USA...he hails from Australia...and he shared why he loved being here.  He alluded that deep down, he loves the way Americans share enthusiasm and willingness to offer support, acknowledgment, kudos...whatever you want to call it...for example, here in the US if you score well on an exam, get a new job,create something worthwhile,many a  folk will say, "Good for you!", and mean it, sincerely.  In his homeland, down under, if the same said successes occurred, you are more likely to get, "Of course you don't let it swell your head."

America is the land of hope...the land of opportunity...this ability to look on the bright side is, in my humble opinion, what makes us American.  When presented with a challenge, we rarely say it cannot be done...we band together and find a solution...we help friends and neighbors, strangers here and abroad.  It is what we do.  It makes us special. 

My husband and I are well travelled and we have noted that abroad,  American optimism is often looked upon as arrogance, self-serving and even weak.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard..."so sorry, it cannot be done..." while living in France or visiting many a European nation...I'd own a house on Lake Como.  And the funny thing is when we Americans, would say...yes it can...see, if we do this together, or you do that, I'll do this,  and so on and so on...we would get one of three looks...a head, shaking "no"and  a face emblazoned with a smug, all knowing smile, implying "silly Americans"...a blank stare, with raised eyebrows...implying "foolish Americans"...or the scowl below one arched eyebrow and hands waving back and forth emphatically implying, "Go away, you stupid Americans!"
The trick is to keep at the problem...get the job done...and surprise!!, when the solution is found, the problem solved, the work done...we are all one big happy world wide family...and we say, "Good job!".

I love this Can Do attitude in America.  It is special!

So recently, there has been a lot of hub-bub about a Wellesley High School commencement speech.  The teacher, giving the speech, talked about a lot of things...and he said to the graduates..."You are not special."   Guess what...all heck broke loose!  Of course they are special...and of course he thinks they are...but I understood his message to be that in most cases, everyone is special to someone...that is a commonality...and if it is common, can it be all that "special'?

More importantly, I think he was saying, it doesn't matter if your parents or teachers think you are special...of course they should...but it is more important that you make your life matter...that you and you alone discover what is special about you, your life, the promise of your future...and no matter what you do, where you go, who you encounter...make the most of it for yourself...not to please anyone...not to impress anyone...not to "win"...but to live a life that you consider well lived...and if you please, impress or irk is a bonus.

Back to Simon Baker's observation...Americans are good at seeing the good stuff...we just need to be more careful not to expect a reward for doing what is good and right. It is our spirit, nature and desire to make the world a better place that makes America special.

To all the recent wishes for a life filled with opportunity and challenges.  Do not be prideful; let your parents/families/friends be proud of you.  Keep your expectations prepared to work hard...nothing "handed" to you will mean more than the first paycheck you earn.

Go out and be special...for so doing, I am sure people will note not that you are special, but the qualities that make you good, kind, respectful, honest, loving, trustworthy...and much more...but it will be in the doing that we see your unique nature...not in the telling.

God Bless the Class of 2012 and God Bless the USA.

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