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“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” — Chinese Proverbour fears.”
Last week, I wrote that things are going to get better. This week, there were several examples that I was right!
For one, there was a huge breakthrough in the global race to find a cure for AIDS. News outlets reported this week that a London man was cleared of the HIV virus after doctors successfully replicated a stem cell transplant procedure that cured another man 12 years ago.
This news is huge, and it gives me so much hope. It gives me hope for those who are still struggling with the disease. It gives me hope for the scientists and researchers who have spent endless weeks, months and years working to find a breakthrough. It gives me hope for all the advocates and activists who have been pushing hard on this issue, as well as on other diseases that still have no cure, like Alzheimer’s. (I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll find a treatment or cure for it soon.)
This story is just one example that breakthroughs happen when you stay at it. That’s good news not just for doctors and researchers. It’s good news for all of us who keep grinding and striving to do better and get better for ourselves.
What exactly does better look like? Well, funny you ask because, this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question myself.
I’ve been thinking about how we’ve become far too accustomed to watching people behave badly—screaming, ranting and throwing tantrums—on TV and in public spaces. We’ve seen this behavior so much lately that all we do anymore is shrug our shoulders.
That’s why people were shocked when they saw my friend Gayle King sit calmly and quietly while R. Kelly went off the rails during their CBS News interview. Think about it: we weren’t shocked to see R. Kelly go off. No, instead we were all amazed that Gayle behaved so well in the face of that on national TV. Isn’t that something? We were taken aback by her calm, her dignity and her experience. This should give us all pause. (Let’s not forget that Gayle has been a journalist for more than 40 years.)
There were other examples of classiness this week as well.
How classy and strong was Alex Trebek when he calmly shared the news about his heartbreaking cancer diagnosis? How classy was Oprah when she calmly interviewed the two men who bravely shared their stories of alleged childhood sexual abuse and Michael Jackson after HBO’s Leaving Neverland?
Calm, strong, classy and dignified. That’s what better looks like.
Better looks like humanitarians who calmly and diligently go about their work on the frontlines of humanity. May we shine more light on them. May we also shine a light on those who are calmly and indefatigably searching for answers to our most deadly diseases. May we admire the calm that lives within them, and may we also seek it within ourselves. Trust me, calm does live inside you. Class does as well.
Class looks like the professor who held a student’s baby while he taught so that the father could take notes. (See the video in our news section.)
Class looks like the guy on the subway who took off his shirt to clothe a man who didn’t have one.
Class looks like Sen. Martha McSally, who shared her story about being raped at the hands of her military superior in a calm, measured, yet forceful, way.
All of these images, along with many more, have convinced me that the desire for better is all around us. The desire for calm responses, calm engagements, and calm dialogue is all around us, too.
I, for one, can hear better when someone speaks to me from a place of calm. I am more inspired by leaders who remain calm and clear about their values and their vision. They make me hopeful and assure me that better is on the horizon.
So, the next time someone rails at you, do what Gayle King did and calmly respond. Or, just quietly get up and walk out.
This Lenten season, let’s give up the drama. Let’s turn off the soap operas. Let’s challenge ourselves to seek out examples of calm, quiet and resolve each and every day.
Better comes when we realize we deserve it. Better comes when we challenge ourselves to be strong, calm, classy and dignified. Better comes when we honor those qualities in others. Better comes when we can see it, so open your eyes. Better is blooming.
Dear God, please help me remain calm, strong, classy and dignified, no matter what life throws my way. Amen.