Positive Traction

Welcome to our annual Optimism Issue. Tell me you don’t need a dose of good news right about now —even if you are an Eagles fan.

Well, here you go. Inside, veteran O&A contributor Larry Nagengast spotlights the Office of Volunteerism, an under-publicized state agency that connects those who want to help with those who need it. Throughout 2018, as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, Out & About will be partnering with this office to share compelling stories of volunteerism as well as volunteer opportunities you can pursue. There are many.

In addition, the O&A staff has compiled an inspiring list entitled “50 Ways Delaware Gives Back.” Trust me, we reached 50 easily. And finally, contributor Adriana Camacho-Church provides scientific and anecdotal evidence of why volunteering isn’t just beneficial at face value, it also helps the volunteer.

Good stuff. Hope you enjoy. But to be honest, I needed this issue. It’s not the easiest of times to be rosy about the future with all this ranting about walls, shit holes and deportation. Not to mention the daily revelations about sexual abuse.

Silver lining? Maybe revealing the worst about ourselves helps us become better.

Which reminds me of a television interview of a young black teen living in Detroit that I watched last November. I’m guessing he was about 14, and the interviewer asked how he felt about Trump being elected, despite the numerous disparaging comments he made about minorities during the election.

I know the response I was expecting; instead, this is what he said (and I paraphrase): “I think it’s a good thing. For him to be elected after all the things he’s said just shows how much racism is still tolerated. I think him being president is going to expose a lot of things that need to be exposed.”

And we worry about explaining the world to our kids? Perhaps we should consider asking the kids to explain the world to us.

Partisan mulishness may dominate the news outlets, but it’s the fresh perspective of millennials that is my cause for optimism. My kids, their friends, and virtually every young person I meet accepts the world for the complexion it is today, not what it was in the good ol’ days.

They didn’t grow up in Ozzie and Harriet America. And they’re not fettered by tired racial or sexual stereotypes. Furthermore, if we’re really being honest, the good ol’ days weren’t all that good, especially if you were in the minority.

In the good ol’ days, I was using a typewriter, making calls from a phone booth, getting up every time I wanted to change the channel. Times change. Attitudes should keep step. As a 60-year-old white guy who sent his first tweet a week ago after encouragement from his 22-year-old daughter, I’m optimistic they will.