Persist

I haven’t been writing a lot lately. Partly because it’s the beginning of the year and a lot of (really uniformly amazing) things are going on at work. Partly because Kathy & I have two young kids at home who need (& deserve) a lot of our attention. Decidedly not because of how great the Stanford men’s basketball team is.

But the real truth is that I’m having a hard time coming to terms with what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and our country more broadly.

Someone asked me the other day how I’m doing — my reply was, “Oh, you know: read crazy Trump tweets first thing in the morning, work it off in a workout, work during the day, rage tweet at night. Normal.”

But I check Twitter a fair amount during the day, and it’s not ever for great reasons. I read a lot of Politico, and Washington Post, and NYT. In the car I’m listening to tons of CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and Fox News (holy shit). I even peek at Breitbart, just to get a glipse of the raging garbage fire going on over there. I read the news at night and want to read every angle. I go to sleep, but wake up every night around 2a or 3a thinking about what’s going on.

So yep. I’m struggling.

I’m functional, and I think making progress at home and work — but I’m so distracted. And clearly not healthy w/r/t my media consumption.

It’s easy to articulate why: I am, and always have been, an American exceptionalist. I believe that for all our increasingly obvious faults, there are many, many things that make the United States, and the American experience, unique in world history, and I’m very proud of who we are and how we work. But I’m also a globalist, and want our whole world to improve — the thing I love about America is how hell bent we’ve been on being so inclusive and diverse. Again, the flaws, including our original sin of slavery, are obvious. But I’m an optimist (even though many people read me as a pessimist), and I’m an American optimist more than anything else.

So it’s hard to watch so many of our core institutions under attack. Every day we can see the work of Jefferson, and Washington, and Madison, and Hamilton, and Lincoln, and Roosevelt, and on and on — trampled on with such disregard by the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania.

I’ll write more about all this in the coming days, not that anyone needs any more hot takes on what’s going on. I’ll write about some of the things that I’ve been getting involved with and actually doing to protect and nurture the values of our country.

I’ve decided to write again mostly for myself, though.

It’s been hard not to be snarky or negative or weak or unsure. I’m all those things most every day, and I don’t really want them to reflect in my writing. (My tweets are another matter — snarky is pretty much what I’ve got!)

But for now I’ll end this with a bit of a breakthrough mentally I had last week — and it came from the unlikeliest of people, Mitch McConnell (who I think is probably the worst, most obstructionist and damaging lawmaker of my lifetime.)

It came when Elizabeth Warren was reading Coretta Scott King’s letter and McConnell shut her down with Rule 19, saying “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that word: persist.

And how it relates to another word of so many Americans right now: resist.

[Nerd alert!] I love etymology, and was thinking about these two words and their roots. “Resist” comes from the Latin roots “re” (meaning against) and “sistere” (meaning to stand) — so of course means to stand against. And there’s a lot of standing against our goverment that needs doing right now. Persist comes from the same base word meaning stand, but with “per” — meaning through. Stand through. Be steadfast.

For me that simple switch, from thinking about resisting, to thinking about being steadfast — that’s made a huge and positive difference for me. Because instead of just standing against this awful administration and being defined by them — instead of that, it’s about the idea of being steadfast to my own — our own — values, and holding them tight and inviolate. It’s not about bouncing these people out of power, although that needs doing. It’s not about raging against this dumb law or that insane executive order.

Rather it’s about continuing to build our families and communities and businesses and governments, and holding our values steadfastly.

Persist.

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