How do You Want to Do or Be Better?

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[T]oday should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible.  Shift in hearts and minds is possible,” President Obama.

While celebrating the Supreme Court’s rulings upholding the right of gay individuals to marry and the Affordable Healthcare Act, I suddenly found myself crying—to my surprise.  I’d been crossing fingers and toes waiting for the rulings and was overjoyed on Friday morning.  However, there was something more than great joy behind my tears.

Eventually I was able to identify the other feelings: relief and some fresh hope in my heart.  I am often mad, frustrated, and disappointed by how slowly progress occurs (globally and personally).  Some days, hope is an act of willpower for me rather than a naturally arising feeling—choosing to live and do “as if” change is possible when it feels otherwise.  And that’s when it hit me: I was thrilled not just because I believe in equal rights and access to quality healthcare for all, but also because the country was living up to the continuous improvement ideal.  That ideal is one of my core beliefs, and it was great to replenish my well of hope with the Court’s holdings and the resulting celebrations.   As President Obama said regarding the marriage decision:

[T]oday, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect.  . . .


[W]hat a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things; what a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles being thrown into a still lake, and ripples of hope cascade outwards and change the world.

We Americans, we humans, we do progress and grow.  It’s often too slow, too halting, not yet enough; and my joy was tempered by deep sadness regarding the Charleston shootings.  But mostly, I felt great joy and hope.

As I reflected more, I recalled a line from the first episode of “The Newsroom”: that the United States is a country founded on the idea “that we can do better.”  Despite how often as we fall short of that ideal, I do believe in it and think it’s part of what makes the United States the country that it is.  It’s also a core part of what makes me, me.  I am always trying to do and be better—not to be perfect, but to be kinder, healthier, more compassionate, generous, patient, humble, grateful, loving, balanced . . . —to be the best possible version of myself.  It’s also why I work as a coach: because I believe in people’s innate goodness and want to help others be their best, happiest, truest selves.  I really and truly believe we can do and be better and that at heart, we all want to do and be better.

That’s why the Court’s ruling affected me so much more than I anticipated.  In my lifetime,  homosexuality has gone from being something secret and shameful to a biological fact that is now considered normal by much of society and officially recognized by the law.  (It isn’t yet universally accepted, but significant progress has been made.)  For all my qualms and disappointments, even as I feel the grief, anger, and frustration of Charleston, Ferguson, Baltimore, and all they represent, I still feel hope.  We can do better—as a nation and individually.

What about you?  How do you want to be and do better?  Where are you tired of being stuck?  What is one change you could make that would help you thrive?  (Not just live or survive, but thrive.)  Or maybe the more pressing question for you is: How do you want to contribute to making the world a better place?  What can you begin today, this week, this month?  And what renews your hope; what will help you keep going during challenging times?

Related Materials

The Brian Lehrer Show, “SCOTUS Rules 5–4 in Favor of Marriage Equality.”  At 33 minutes and 50 seconds, Mr. Lehrer beautifully expresses how the joy of the day is  tempered by sorrow for Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney and the nine others killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

MacKenzie McHale in episode one of “The Newsroom” (at 1:34):  “America is the only country on the planet that since its birth has said over and over and over that we can do better!  It’s part of our DNA.”

Transcript of President Obama’s speech on the ruling

Hope (Emily Dickinson)

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all  . . .

            Complete poem

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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