Mom, Ma, Mama.. How to Stay Optimistic in this Crazy World
What an interesting world in which to raise some children. There is a book called “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling, which counters every hand wringing, #whatisthisworldcomingto type commentaries - have you read it? Bill Gates and I really enjoyed it; they even quoted one of us on the jacket. So, as it turns out, the world is exponentially better than it was even 25 years ago citing cool indicators such as: education, wealth distribution, life expectancy, and disaster response. The book goes into a very readable analysis of how and why intelligent, educated people get it wrong all the time. There are charming and colorful bubble charts to help us understand why we are so marvelously stupid but, more importantly, we are shaken with optimism and know that it’s safe to carry on.
I once read that to find purpose on this rock, you should build a life that is just the right size for you. Find that one issue that ignites your passion and make it your corner to sweep. Then keep going. When you feel it, you’ll know. One of my favorite poets, the congenial W.H. Auden said it; “We are all here on Earth to help others; what the other’s are here for, I’ve no idea.” We can only find peace in service to others even though they might suck sometimes. Naturally, this brings us to the children... a lot of us have small ones that look to us as the leaders. How can we empower our little game changers? What do we want them to see?
As our daughters grow, let’s not tell them they are pretty before we teach them that they are smart and strong. This is a true paradigm shift that will quietly change the world. For the first time in human history, yes roughly 5000 years, almost 20% of engineers are women. We’re up from like 0% so this is progress, not perfection. This matters because engineers are the designers of entire world systems and we need solutions to some problems. I know they can help. This year for the third grade mother's day book my daughter had to fill in the blank with the best adjective to describe her mother. She wrote “smart” and she punctuated it with a heart. That’s right.
I have 3 sons as well, one of whom is literally working on solving the global energy crisis at one of top engineering schools in the country. Another just told me he is considering being a teacher because he dislikes school and wants to make it better for kids. And my littlest son, impulsive and curious, once patiently explained to his first grade class mates that “stupid” isn’t the S-word but that “shit” is. He is one of the boys who are diagnosed with ADHD three times as often as our girls - what’s that about? Boys are now 20% less likely to go to college than girls. Well….shit.
It isn’t other people’s children who will inherit the problems - it’s all of ours. We can cry about the problems and still create the solutions. When they breathlessly infer that the world is going to hell, talking about poverty and mass shootings, when they talk about the decay of society and technology taking over, when we stare off into environmental crisis and economic disparity, when we are about to give up and let the world burn around us as we dance around the fire I want my children to show that on the other side of every disaster is human ingenuity and that if they are doubted, they can confidently tell them: You should talk to my mother.
Happy Mother’s Day ladies - it looks like we tied for first again!
P.S. My little "corner of the world to sweep" centers on education and empowerment in two areas:
1. Engineering education in public schools to teach kids creative design thinking and problem solving beyond prescribed formulas.
2. Creating awareness and solutions around toxic home and body care products - hence, ms.fresh.