Maria’s Sunday Paper: The Best of Us
Earlier this week, my brother sent me a link to this commercial for the Winter Olympics that features skier Lindsey Vonn and ends with the tagline “The Best of U.S.”
It’s an inspiring, uplifting and motivating video. And, as usual, it got me thinking. It got me thinking about the best of us, and about all of us.
This was a week when political leaders told us about the state of our union — in other words, the status of “us.” Media pundits argued over whose point of view was valid, who could take credit for what, and whose facts were right.
I watched and listened to it all, and as the week wound down, what stayed with me —what really rose above the noise — were the stories I read or heard about the best of us. The men and women that President Trump singled out in the House gallery, like Preston Sharp, who at just 12 years old has made it his mission to lay flags and carnations on the graves of all veterans. The hard-working Americans from Fall River who gathered to hear my cousin Rep. Joe Kennedy III give the Democratic response. Americans who, as Kennedy said, quietly serve, rescue, help and heal every single day. What stayed with me were these people’s stories. They are the best of “us.”
As I wrote last week, the division of “us” is what really breaks my heart. Especially all of the news that highlights the worst of us. I believe that highlighting the best of us is what this newsletter strives to do on a weekly basis. That’s not naive. It’s a point of view. It’s a perspective.
Both political parties agree on one thing: the larger us is strong because we the people are strong. We the people are hard-working, committed, motivated and good. We may not all be Olympic athletes. We may not all go to the Super Bowl. We may not all get singled out at the State of the Union. But, we make up that union. We are what makes this place the best country on earth.
Us. You and me. Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets and his wife, Rebecca, who were highlighted at the State of the Union for adopting a baby from a heroin addict on the streets. The men of the military. All of the Architects of Change we showcase this week and every week. Individuals like Bill Gates, for what he’s doing for Alzheimer’s, and also for what he’s already done for so many other diseases this world faces. Rev. Ed Bacon, who works on the frontlines of humanity every day helping people see the best in themselves. (We share videos featuring both of them with you in today’s Sunday Paper.)
The best of us. That’s what I’m focused on. Doing my best. Not worrying about what someone else is doing or making. I’m focused on my purpose.
Sure, Lindsey Vonn can ski better than I can. Sure, Tom Brady can throw a football better than I can. (He’s also really good at getting his mind focused before a big game. Read our Q&A with him from last year about training “the mind of a champion.”) But, my belief is that we all have greatness inside of us.
What’s in me and what’s in you is just as great as what’s in Lindsey, Tom, and others like them. As my friend Olympian Scott Hamilton likes to say, there is a champion within each of us. (We’ll share an excerpt from his new book about this topic next week.)
Never doubt that your spirit, your life’s work, and your determination — coupled with the right music and images — could also be the stuff that makes a commercial proclaiming the best of us.
So, root for the best team at the Super Bowl today. Root for Lindsey Vonn and all the other athletes who will bring their best to the Olympics this month. But, also root for your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister and your brother. Root for your parents and your friends. Root for yourself.
I believe that if we truly start rooting for our fellow human beings — if we start really focusing on the best in all of us — then we won’t care who is a dreamer and who isn’t. We will realize that we are all dreamers. We are all “us,” and we are all the “best of us,” in every sense of the word.
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VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
BILL GATES REVEALS HIS PERSONAL REASON FOR WANTING TO FIGHT ALZHEIMER’S
I recently sat down with Bill Gates for TODAY to talk about his recent $100 billion donation to fight Alzheimer’s. In this exclusive interview, Gates revealed to me why his fight to end the disease hits close to home.
SALLIE KRAWCHECK EXPLAINS WHY WOMEN NEED TO WAKE UP TO INVESTING THEIR MONEY
I really enjoyed sitting down this week with financial powerhouse and Architect of Change Sallie Krawcheck. During our informative conversation, Sallie talked about how women can get ahead with investing, and how doing so could help close the financial gap between men and women. This is a “must watch” for all women!
REV. ED BACON EXPLAINS HOW TO FIND PURPOSE BY DISCOVERING OUR “TRUE SELVES”
I’m so glad I got to sit down again this week with my friend Episcopal Priest Ed Bacon. He always shares the best wisdom with me, and in this Architects of Change LIVE discussion, he reveals his own path to salvation and how you can find your true path through self discovery.
WOMEN IN MEDIA AND POLITICS SHARE LIFE ADVICE WITH TOMORROW’S YOUNG LEADERS
I am so proud of the young women at The Brentwood School in LA. They started a conference modeled after the Women’s Conferences I held during my time as first lady of California and this past weekend, convened a variety of leading female voices to share their wisdom with the next generation. As part of that event, I sat down with Architects of Change Sen. Barbara Boxer; NBC news correspondent Katy Tur; and Julie Chavez Rodriquez, California state director for U.S. Sen. Kamal Harris for a powerful and thought-provoking conversation about what it’s like to be a woman involved in politics today.
CHANGEMAKERS MOVING HUMANITY FORWARD
LACKING DECENT GROCERY STORES, THESE OAKLAND RESIDENTS BAND TOGETHER AND OPEN THEIR OWN THRIVING MARKET: Healthy food is something we should all have access to, but unfortunately in many areas of the country, that’s just not the case. That’s why this week, we honor the Architects of Change at the Mandela Food Cooperative, a worker-owned, thriving business located in West Oakland, California. In 2009, community members launched their Whole Foods-like co-op in an area once lacking in decent markets. This year, the business will move to a space that’s twice as large.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. After Forgetting He Was Married, Man With Alzheimer’s Proposes, and Remarries, His Wife: This is such a beautiful story and illustrates that love can and does persevere through the ravages of Alzheimer’s. After 38 years of marriage, Michael Joyce, 68, re-proposed to wife Linda, 64. And watch the video above.
2. Rapper Debuts Music Video With a Mission During Grammys: This video really struck me during last Sunday’s Grammy telecast. The acclaimed rapper Logic has already touched millions with his suicide prevention song “1-800-273-8255.” Now, he has released a powerful music video to reach out to those in need.
3. Brain Research Suggest Friends Really Are on the Same Wavelength: This is such a cool story. Researchers from UCLA and Dartmouth College scanned the brains of a group of business school students with an MRI machine and were able to detect which of them were friends, and which were not.
4. Today’s Youth Strive For Perfection More Than Ever Before: My daughter Christina shared this piece with me. New research shows just how much our youth’s quest for perfectionism has jumped over the years, due largely to the influence of social media. Thank God, I’m not in high school today and having to deal with Snapchat and Instagram at that age. It’s troubling and sad.
5. Terminally Ill Children Offer Thoughts On What Makes Life Meaningful: When a children’s doctor asked his terminally ill patients what makes life meaningful to them, their answers may surprise you. This Twitter thread is powerful and something we can all learn from and implement now.
6. Three Corporate Giants Join Forces to Form Health Care Company: This will definitely shake up the healthcare industry. Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday that they plan to jointly create a company which will provide their employees with affordable, high-quality health care.
7. Yes, the New England Patriots Have a Character Coach: I think every business should listen up and follow suit. Jack Easterby, who hold’s the title of “character coach/team development, ” oversees best behavior practices within the organization. Could he be the team’s secret weapon?
INSPIRING SPEECHES FROM LEADERS AMONG US
THIS 9-YEAR-OLD’S MLK SPEECH SHOULD INSPIRE US ALL: This Dallas fourth grader’s moving speech was delivered a few weeks ago at his school’s MLK Oratory Competition. It’s stayed with us ever since, which is why we share it with you today. Wesley Trent Stoker says while “I may not look Dr. King, but I believe like Dr. King.” Stoker, the son of a minister himself, reminds us why we need to “see everyone’s inner soul instead of what is on the outside.”
Have you heard a speech in your community or online that you think we should share? Write to us.
I love the power, yet simplicity, of these words written by Rumi, one of my favorite poets. It reminds us to use our voices, not our anger, to be heard above the noise and to move humanity forward.
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