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Smiling behind the mask

One of the negatives that comes with wearing a mask during this COVID pandemic is that people can’t see your smile, and you can’t see theirs.

This might not be a problem for some, but it is for me. Regardless of what some may believe, disgruntlement does not describe me; I am a happy person, and I am at peace with myself and my surroundings. I smile! I smile at strangers, children, old people, young people, people of all races, religions and nationalities, and even those who don’t smile back.

Mother Theresa said, “Peace begins with a smile” and with the disharmony in our world today, we should all be smiling … a lot and often! Unfortunately, however, life can sometimes take an unexpected turn and we find ourselves looking down instead of up (but I refuse to let the turkeys win). These past few months are classic examples of trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

Lately, it seems, there is one undesirable event after another being foisted upon us. I believe it’s time to look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Let’s ignore the naysayers, those who wish to destroy the good of what is for purely personal gratification, and let’s put a stop to giving time and voice to those whose only motive it is to make themselves look bigger by making others look smaller. We live in a great city that has become a destination for tourists and industry. These things don’t just happen overnight, they take work.

Have mistakes been made over the years? You betcha! When the first Pilgrims crossed the ocean from Europe and England and created settlements in the new land, they participated in some barbarous acts.

They also carved out cities, towns and villages, and brought religion and industry. When James Madison wrote the document that formed the model for the Constitution along with many of the United States Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention, and with George Washington presiding, many of them owned slaves, were bigoted, racists, and probably some other things as well that would not be acceptable in present society.

But the document they penned became the foundation on which we are still governed today. Successful growth requires trial and error and even some failures along the way. There are many areas that we, as a society, have failed while in our pursuit of happiness and prosperity, and yes, even in ensuring equality for all. But we must recognize our mistakes, make amends, and move forward. We cannot erase history, but we must absolutely learn from it.

The failures in judgments and/or actions of the Pilgrims and even the Founding Fathers can be overcome today. We can ensure equality for all. We can continue the greatness of our country and the economic growth of our city. But we must first recognize the failures of the past and use them as stepping stones to make life better, fair and equal for everyone. It is time to shed the cloak of finger pointing, making personal attacks, bullying, and looking for only the negative in others. It is time to be the positive change we want to see.

Adding to the many problems we were already facing we are now struggling with this COVID pandemic. COVID has taken a bite out of our resolves, our economy, our previous way of socializing and just living our lives, but we must recognize what is and move forward. We must wear masks when out in public. We must maintain social distancing, stay out of large crowds, practice good personal hygiene, and respect this virus – it’s a killer!

And while we are respecting the virus, let’s respect one another! Name calling, bullying, political posturing, grand standing and blaming others keeps us mired down and prevents positive dialogue that leads to problem solving. We can only correct the mistakes of the past by first recognizing them and working together to see that they never happen again; it will truly take a village to keep this city on the path of the economic recovery that we have experienced over the past four years.

I have a friend who always ends his messages to me with the words “Keep Smiling” and so I’ll leave you with this quote from Chad Sugg, “If you’re reading this … Congratulations, you’re alive. If that’s not something to smile about, then I don’t know what is.”

Have a great day.

Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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