Halvorsen Gatlin: Let’s work together as a positive force in our world

We have choices in how we view things, as well as how we react to them.

By Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin

In case someone hasn’t noticed, we’re already 10 days into the new year. That means we’re only about three weeks away from Groundhog Day and just 68 days away from spring — with more sunshine — and bright yellow daffodils and scarlet tulips and bouquets of other lovely blossoms.

However, it also means plenty of undesirable weeds will be popping up alongside those pretty posies. Moreover, we’re a scant 58 days away from having to set all our clocks forward an hour, docking each of us 60 minutes of sweet slumber — the “payoff” for having happily accepted an extra hour of shut-eye last November.

But then, we’re also 345 days away from the beginning of next winter. It’s all in our perspective, but it’s nice to know we have some choices in how we view things, as well as how we react to them.

I’ve long been concerned that many folks these days have been increasingly treating others in meaner ways. And I don’t say “meaner” to connote a position of something, such as “average” or “middle-of-the-road” but as a synonym for “nastier,” “crueler” and “more malicious.”

It also seems to take very little to elicit that kind of a rejoinder from someone else. In fact, the person on the receiving end might not have even done anything to prompt it.

As more people seem to think it’s far more acceptable to treat others more and more despicably, whether in word or deed, I’ve been concerned we are witnessing a relationship “garden” being planted with nothing but the seeds of thorny, poisonous weeds.

Moreover, those brambles have extremely deep, extensive root systems, making the weeds a nightmare to remove.

It’s preferable, by far, to eliminate the seeds of such undesirable growths before they even have a chance to be sown.

I’m sure that the seeming acceptance of so much mistreatment of those around us these days has been engendered by a number of causes. Though it can be a positive tool, social media is open to almost any kind of verbiage, as well as accounts of horrible maltreatment, abuse, oppression and worse.

A CNN story last week from Ohio seems beyond the pale, at least I hope it still is. A first-year medical resident from July-September 2018, Lara Kollab, was fired from the highly respected Cleveland Clinic after it was discovered she’d made numerous, now-deleted anti-Semitic statements on Twitter between 2011 and 2017.

The tweets were reported by Canary Mission, which on its website says it “documents people and groups that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on North American college campuses.” CNN reported that Kollab graduated from a Jewish-affiliated medical school.

Admittedly, the account is shocking and, perhaps still extreme. But the point is that it happened at all … and that the tweets continued as long as they did before being reported. If it is an extreme example, I maintain it’s one that proves the rule, that it’s even possible that a medical school graduate training to be a doctor could have thought she’d get away with such statements, in particular one where she said she would give future patients wrong medications.

Acknowledging that we have choices in how we respond to what happens to and around us, I believe we can make a difference in our society. I do, however, also believe that society can go too far to return to sanity.

Not knowing where “too far” is, I strongly believe that we have one of three choices it would be better to make sooner rather than later.We can join with the “meanies,” thinking we’re entitled to make any kind of response we feel like when someone “crosses” us.

Or we can simply be thankful that we’re not as bad as the “meanies” and congratulate ourselves.

But we can instead choose to work at making the world around us a friendlier and more agreeable one – for everyone we know or come across. And there are so many creative ways to do that.

Permit me to point out that there are still 355 days left in 2019 in which we can work at it to the best of our ability. And it can even be great fun. So let’s get to it.

Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin can be reached at rhoda1946@yahoo.com.