Which Side Are You On?

IBT 1:8

One week into the new year and there is already so much one can be anxious and/or angry about. But, I promised myself in this new year to focus my mind and my voice on the positive. So, I’m not going to rant and rail about the House ethics debacle. I’m going to instead give a shout-out to all of the citizens who flooded their representatives’ offices with complaints and—lo and behold—got a senseless decision overturned in record speed.

I’m not going to pile on singer Kim Burrell, who sang one of the songs for the film Hidden Figures and was disinvited from Ellen Degeneres’ show after she made homophobic comments. Instead, I’m going to focus on Ellen’s authenticity and her guest musician Pharrell Williams, who is a composer and producer for Hidden Figures. Williams did appear on the show and he spoke eloquently about how we all need to condemn hate speech and how we also need to increase our empathy.

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Pharrell Williams is right. We all get to choose what side we are on. We all get to decide what we are willing to fight for. What we are willing to stand up for. Speak out for. What we as people fundamentally care about.

Fighting FOR something is very different than fighting AGAINST something. It’s a different mentality. It comes from a different place inside of you.

Last year, there was so much attention around what certain people were fighting against. It felt, as I’ve written before, divisive, angry and mean.

When people stand up and say this is what I’m for—when they offer a vision that is hopeful, inclusive, positive, and aspirational—it’s so much more exhilarating.

As we head into this new year, I hope we can each think about what we are FOR, as opposed to what we are against. I know that I want to live in a country that looks at itself as a family. One where we are all seen and accepted, and where everyone is expected to contribute to its greater common good.

And, when we see something we don’t agree with, or something that troubles our hearts or our minds—like that deeply disturbing Facebook video of four young people beating up a mentally disabled man—my hope is that we will stand up and use our voices quickly, efficiently and collectively. Just like my brother Timothy did.

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In this new year, may we each ask ourselves: What am I for? Which side am I on? What do I stand for? How we individually and collectively answer that question will tell us a lot about where we are going in 2017.

About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.

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