This I Believe
We have two active teenagers, involved in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Swimming, Rowing, Quiz Bowl and learning to drive. My wife and I believe in being very active in the activities of our offspring, often guiding them in the selection of their activities but always actively supporting “behind the scenes” to try to make sure they have a high quality experience. I am active, but compared to my wife I am a spectator, and I just spent three days around the July 4th holiday painting park tables and benches at Bishop Park in Wyandotte to help my daughter and two other cadettes earn their Girl Scout Silver Award. My son is concurrently working on his Eagle Project, tearing down an overgrown fence to allow The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge to open-up an area for trails. In all of the activities I have encountered a group of individuals that are dedicated, almost obsessively, with that program and work tirelessly for its success. These people I call the passionates, of which my wife is a member. These are the parents and people who work the lemonade stands, clean the stands at the racetrack, arrange meals and dinners for the athletes, and manage all the details that make the participants’ experience meaningful and pleasurable.
This core group of passionates also characterizes the political and environmental causes with which we have been involved. They make the phone calls, manage the events and organize the public appearances and legwork. I believe that passionates are ubiquitous and are what makes society function. It takes people with vision and purpose to have the will and stamina to overcome obstacles, especially when their passion is in conflict with someone else’s.
I labor in the shadow of my wife’s passions, and they are numerous. If I have a passion, it is for my family. I believe in supporting my wife’s support of our children, and that gives me plenty to do. I believe in making the world a better place for my children, and that leads our family to participate in numerous volunteer activities. I teach science and math in an inner-city school district, partly to make money and have the same summer schedule as my children, but also to do my best to improve the knowledge and opportunities of disadvantaged youth. These students are going to compete with my children for higher education and ultimately jobs, but I believe our society is stronger if all of our children have equal opportunities – particularly when these young adults start competing against youth in other countries.
Having a passion, and being devoted to a facet of your life is what makes life worthwhile. At awards ceremonies or end-of season banquets, we are often astounded to see parents of students who we have not seen at any of the swim meets, regattas or band competitions. Perhaps their passions lie in other directions. I like to think so. I believe that every person has something valuable to contribute, and their passion leads them in a different direction from mine. It is rare to see a passionate actively involved in multiple programs, so they easily establish cliques. This is hard on my wife, who doesn’t believe in pursuing only one passion (beside the welfare of her children). She desires to be totally integrated in all of our children’s activities, but her attempts at infiltration are frequently frustrated. Passionates, although well-meaning, can also be short-sighted and unwilling to field suggestions from those they consider outsiders or part-timers. Nevertheless, she makes valuable contributions and is a tireless advocate for student participants that she feels are marginalized, including our son, in some circumstances. I am comfortable supporting my wife in her passions and supporting my children in the pursuit of theirs. I admire passionates and salute their attempts and accomplishments in making their passion a reality.
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