The Job Search-The Concept of “fit”

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Over the last couple of years, there has been sufficient media coverage on the search for jobs by new college graduates, the creation of jobs in America, the unemployment rate, and preparation needed for more citizens to be prepared for high-tech jobs.

Nonetheless, there are still hundreds of thousands of college graduates, at every level, and in all disciplines looking for something close to an open job door to launch their careers/lives, and/or to move out of their parents’ houses. Moreover, there are mid-level workers, steeped in the nexus of family responsibilities, searching for new jobs to earn more money or to acquire a better quality of life.  Further, there are Baby Boomers who are phasing out of jobs, or seeking to re-imagine how to live a quality retirement life by engaging in new interests with monetary payoffs.

Recently, I have been watching our daughter and other college graduates negotiate the hurdles to enter the workforce.  While some aspects of securing a job that works for you, as well as your working for it, have remained the same, there are significant challenges many new graduates face in order to convince those searching and interviewing that they are a good fit for the organization–at least for the near future.  Being a good fit for a job seems to mean that the prospective employer or current employees think that they can work with you, and you can work with them–at least for the time being.  The inherent limitations on the searching for a good fit approach for recruiting talented employees should be explored further–but for now, it still seems to be the norm.

As research reveals, most employees change jobs or careers numerous times in their lives, so fit  in an organization can change over time.

Yet, while watching new graduates attempt to sell their skills, enthusiasm, tech savvy, and innovative ideas to organizations, I have been reminded that establishing at least the illusion of fit for a job is a very complex undertaking.  It involves a variety of factors such as others’ perceptions of the prospective employee, past experiences of the current employees, and other factors not within the control of the job seeker. Further, strategies for projecting fit  can be different from organization to organization and at different stages of your career and life.

For example, establishing fit when you are a new graduate, usually includes creating a strong impression that you will bring energy, a fresh perspective, technological skills, and the ability to work with others. During interviews, graduates will be challenged to exude confidence, knowledge, and flexibility as they respond to questions from highly relevant to arcane.  In mid-career, prospective employees might want to project knowledge, energy, good judgement, good team skills, and a repertoire that will benefit the organization.  In many ways, searching for a job can be compared to speed dating–you have a limited time and toolkit to assess and be assessed for fit.

Not surprisingly, many new college graduates who are attempting to enter the workforce claim that even with good academic records and a few visits to their campus career centers, they do not really believe they are prepared to convince employers that they are the right person for a specific position.  Many students agree, though, that understanding of the concept of fit can be enhanced by actually observing organizational culture and participating in internships or volunteer experiences.

Some aspects of projecting fit are visual and auditory.  Students often need assistance transitioning from campus chic to work attire–in order to convince interviewers of their fit.  Even though many workplaces are allowing casual attire, there is a range of casual wear that is considered acceptable in the workplace. New graduates might not understand that range, but they can learn it quickly with a little assistance from career centers, mentors, and internship experiences.  Additionally, many of us have observed bright, caring, and talented people lose job opportunities because of their ill-fitting communication skills, both written and verbal–OMG!

To help students make a transition to an appropriate, and comfortable workplace fit, at least a few universities that I know of have charged their career service offices with maintaining a career wardrobe collection of ties, business jackets, and other accessories to help students make an acceptable visual presentation in interviews. Further, these career centers have consistently worked with students to employ the staid version of English–probably a necessary standard to establish comfort and fit when conversing with prospective employers.

Moreover, in terms of written communication, recent graduates often are unsure of how to craft an appropriate resume and how they should represent themselves (i.e., choice of pictures) on LinkedIn and other social media sites.  If I had a dollar for each student or young professional who was convinced that the same generic one-page resume is the only option for all job opportunities, I would be extraordinarily rich.  There are so many other options available for students to demonstrate what they know and can do, such as online portfolios and personal websites which portray leadership experiences, writing samples, and positive stories.

During an interview, inadequate communication skills and body language (such as posture, eye movement, and so forth) are often ways that prospective employers eliminate prospective employees. New graduates and anyone seeking to change jobs need to be prepared for online Skype, Google Hangout, or other such teleconference interviews and interactions. Organizations use them to both save money while assessing communication skills of prospective employees.  Often, potential employees are eliminated from the competition because of their micro expressions, lack of eye contact, use of space, or comments during an online interview that could suggest that there could be an issue with fit into a particular organization’s culture.

As previously stated, students who have had the opportunity to participate in the workforce through intensive internships or cooperative experiences demonstrate greater confidence when discussing their abilities and potential contributions in interviews because they have already had opportunities to sit in conference rooms and observe and mimic the behaviors of more seasoned employees.

Nonetheless, it has continued to surprise me that even the most talented graduates lack self-esteem and worry incessantly about the competition for desirable jobs.  Apparently, performing well academically does not necessarily translate into confidence in securing jobs or the overall strategies for competing for jobs.

Recently, I read an article about a new graduate who went to an unbelievable number of interviews and sent out approximately 100 job applications.  Needless to say, the job search rejections left the new graduate disappointed, but she refused to give up, and eventually secured a job through her network contacts, assisted by an extended family member.  Networking and discussing career aspirations with seasoned employees still seem to help graduates secure entrance into tough job markets.

So, how can colleges, career centers, and mentors help?  It seems that as long as human beings are judging who will be a good fit for their organizations, it will be important for those who are helping graduates and young professionals to explore and understand the concept of fit from various angles– including knowledge, communication skills, attitudes, attire, and workplace expectations.  Sometimes, it is important for the graduate to determine early in the interview process that a company is not a good fit and to pursue other better options.

Yet, I admit, the perception of fit still seems a bit flawed to me.  Hopefully, those candidates selected because they appear to fit will actually help lead organizations to a more innovative and productive future!

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As A New Semester Begins–It is Important to Reassure Americans About the Value of Higher Education

thA new semester is beginning on many college and university campuses. With the smiling and hopeful faces of students and their families as they move onto college campuses around the nation, there is also the thinly veiled anxiety about the cost/benefit analysis of higher education.

Recently, I researched and delivered a presentation on the current challenges and opportunities in higher education. Of course, perspectives on these challenges and opportunities, though they might seem more pressing now, are not by any means new.

During President Clinton’s term, Public Law 105-18, (Title IV, Cost of Higher Education Review, 1997) established the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education as an independent advisory body and called for a comprehensive review of the affordability of higher education because public concern was at an all time high.

This legislation created an 11-member commission with members to be appointed by various governmental bodies. In brief, its charge was to examine factors and trends that were related to higher tuition costs, the role of state and federal policies, mechanisms for financially assisting families, and innovative ways to minimize costs for the future.

According to the final report, “The Commission’s recommendations–several dozen in total–emphasize shared responsibility to (1) strengthen institutional cost control; (2) improve market information and public accountability; (3) deregulate higher education; (4) rethink accreditation; and (5) enhance and simplify Federal student aid.” The degree to which the Commission recommendations were, and are still being enacted, is debatable.

However, in the last five years or so, the public spotlight on higher education seems to have only intensified. Articles and discussions on costs and related issues in higher education can be viewed in various publications such as Forbes, American Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. In addition to discussions about costs and graduation rates, the public appears to be more attentive to, and focus on, when things go awry on college campuses. One consequence of this scrutiny is that the terms of college presidents have shortened, and one public misstep anywhere among the rank and file can derail an academic leader. Public confidence in higher education seems to be at an all time low.

Yet, at the core of this spotlight on higher education institutions and the frequency of news stories on the costs, graduation rates, and student debt is the difficulty in determining and measuring families’ and society’s return on its investments in higher education. Some higher education leaders believe that college and university advocates should acknowledge the underlying anxiety among these investors in education and engage in more meaningful dialogues and demonstrations of the added value and contributions of higher education to local, regional, national, and global communities.

Possibly, through dialogues, demonstrations and strategic storytelling, more public recognition will ultimately emerge about the positive effects of higher education on economic development, creation of jobs, cultural enrichment, development of intellectual capital, support of small businesses, and overall heightened quality of life in various communities. However, these conversations will not be easy dialogues or demonstrations to convince families and other taxpayers who are still struggling to pay for college.  Questions linger such as: Will higher education really lead to better lifestyles and overall well being? Will debt to finance college educations result in unpaid mortgages, and living from paycheck to paycheck?

After over 30 years in higher education, it is easier to acknowledge that investments in higher education involve extremely complicated short-term and long-term benefits. Higher education outcomes include human transformations within the context of academic coursework, co-curricular activities, leadership opportunities, learning communities, residential life, and internship experiences. It is common for students to leave college with a greater sense of purpose and/or changes in attitudes and perspectives. While educators often observe how higher education transforms individuals and generations of individual families, these observations, in many cases, have not been quantified beyond graduation rates and job attainment. Many educators have seen first hand how the college education of one family member spreads like a ripple effect and changes the quality and perspectives of family worlds for current and future generations.

Because we are steeped in the culture of higher education, we educators might assume that the benefits of higher education are obvious. Thus, we do not necessarily focus on, or understand, the general anxiety of families, legislators, prospective students, and other significant stakeholders who question these investments. Moreover, as educators, we can also point to the numerous assessments already employed in measuring various academic and co-curriculum outcomes of higher education. These assessments include accreditation through the eight regional accreditation associations (i.e. Southern Association, New England, Middle States, Western Association, Council for Higher Education, and so forth) that measure each college/university’s ability to demonstrate that they are fulfilling their academic and student service objectives.

Further, many disciplines within colleges and universities are also accredited by professional associations for that discipline–such as the American Bar Association, Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, National Architectural Accreditation Board, Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology–to name a few.) Nonetheless, many citizens are not aware of these regular assessments, and/or what they signify about the value and benefits of higher education.

Thus, there are more and more discussions throughout local, state and federal levels to increase accountability measures–even though it is not clear that increased measurements would capture the main benefits of higher education (i.e., producing critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and intelligent citizens who will work together to create and improve upon the tenets of our nation). Nonetheless, it is hard to escape the fact that the focus on measuring outcomes is also related to the overall general anxiety about the expected benefits of higher education for obtaining more immediate and tangible outcomes such as high paying jobs, promotional opportunities, and overall higher quality of living that includes nice cars, home ownership, and increased consumerism.

Since many families’ incomes and net worth have not kept pace with the general notions of a middle class good life, it can be argued that frustration and anxiety are probably further fueled by the unrelenting pressure on everyone to continue to consume more, better, newer products and technologies.

So, what should colleges/universities do to counteract this public pressure about costs, the expectation of high-income jobs, and queries about the value of higher education outcomes? Well, for one thing, even though numerous colleges and universities have existed for hundreds of years, they have not always worked strategically to engage in dialogue with significant stakeholders about the value that they add to families and communities. Such conversations are past due.

By highlighting and clearly demonstrating the benefits of higher education that extend far beyond graduation rates, hopefully, more Americans will recognize that critical thinking, broadened perspectives, and innovation (which, by the way, are characteristics of a quality liberal arts education) will lead to a better quality of lives for their families, children, retirement years, and future generations. The more citizens understand the broad and multi-generational benefits of higher education,  the greater the possibilities are of reducing general anxiety over costs. Hopefully, anxieties over costs will eventually be replaced by acknowledgements, or pride, that the investment in higher education delivers greater lifelong benefits than the short-term investments in new cars, bigger houses, and the latest trendy technology!

National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, Federal Register, The Daily Journal of the United States Government, Office of the Federal Register, website.

April Showers Bring May Flowers and Hopefully Needed Clean Water for Global Neighbors

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A good spring rain shower waters the trees, boosts water in lakes, cleans the streets, and sometimes soothes the spirit.  In fact, in many places, spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year, as we behold flowers opening, lawns greening, and the  beauty of the Earth unfolding.  As a kid, on the rainy spring days, I remember being reminded by my parents not to frown on rainy days because, yes, “rain showers bring May flowers.”  This statement was usually followed by “we need the rain!”  Without a doubt, water is one of the most basic necessities for life on our shared planet.
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Even though most of us know the significance of rain and the need for water to sustain our lives, many of us still view rain as a gift from the sky that will keep on giving.   Awareness of the need to sustain this valuable resource often only correlates with drastic climatic or pollution conditions that force us to plan and change our behavior to maintain sustainability.  Some environmentalists affirm that we are using water much faster than it is replenished. Other scientists have sounded alarms that global warming is producing profound changes in water availability, quality, and access. Thus, it is not a surprise that in some places in the United States a rainy day is a much appreciated day!  Like with many other limited resources, some states and municipalities are planning ahead strategically to maintain vital water resources.
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 As the USDA drought monitor map illustrates, there are states experiencing significant drought conditions in America.  Some western states with desert climates such as California are already engaged in a debate about the future of protecting water supply. Thus, not surprisingly, there are significant portions of America that employ water strategists and consultants to ensure that there will be adequate water for the citizens in the region.  According to some researchers, it is unclear whether droughts in some of the western states and adjacent areas are a new phenomenon or part of a cyclical rotation. Yet, issues regarding clean water possessions have social and economic effects for all of us.   Some urban planners project that protracted droughts in some parts of the US can lead to economic imbalances, as companies elect to locate in more verdant states.
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As my daughter, a fledgling environmentalist, recently reminded us, there is a great deal of drought in our global community that is literally a matter of life or death.  Even with the scarcity of water and drought protocols, many of us in America take clean water for granted.  We are usually only inconvenienced by monitoring our consumption and employing our sprinkler system on alternative days.  Yet, even with these practices, we function with limited knowledge about how the lives of our neighbors around the world are affected by lack of clean water.  Maybe if we knew more, we would engage in broader positive social action about managing water better among the Earth’s global citizens.
Most of us know that drought conditions can be linked to quality of life in many global communities.  The Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation monitors drought conditions in various global communities and supports drought relief efforts and water sanitation services through generous donations.  According to their Foundation website, drought can be devastating, resulting in barren fields, malnourished families, and starvation for millions of global citizens.  Likewise, the lack of clean water kills. The website charitywater.org states that:

“Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren’t strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses.”

So what does this mean for most of us?  As we calibrate our sprinkler systems, and pause to admire our flowers and green lawns, let us be cognizant that for some of our neighbors, even though some may be far away–water is a matter of life and death.  Sustaining our natural resources is one of the most important efforts we can engage in to sustain global communities and the well-being of future generations. I have been convinced that access to clean water is a social and environmental justice issue.  Helping global neighbors attain an improved standard of living might be viewed as a form of effective diplomacy.

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 www.gatesfoundation.org

http://munchies.vice.com/articles/some-california-rice-farmers-would-rather-sell-water-than-plant-crops

 http://www.wired.com/2015/03/californias-run-water-act-now/

http://www.appalmad.org/slider/west-virginias-streams-are-in-trouble

Love Quest–Happy Valentine’s Day!

Featured imageAs I walk through numerous commercial venues, it is hard to look pass the red velvet Valentine’s hearts, heart-shaped balloons, and, of course the chocolates in heart-shaped boxes that are readily available to help us share our feelings and demonstrate that we love others. Yet, my first instinct is to express something akin to chagrin about the limited nature of love these red mementos seem to represent.

Love appears to be one of the most complex human states of being or demonstration of emotional connection that most humans proclaim to seek and treasure. In some way, we are all on a love quest. Fortunately or unfortunately, many of us encounter our first glimpses of love in our family worlds from our parents and family members, enhanced by books, and other social media. We tend to conceptualize love from watching others demonstrate love.

Unfortunately, it is rarely easy to discern the depth and commitment of the love we think we see without sustained observations, authentic conversations, and soul-searching. Commercialized expressions of the emotion often furnish little help for us, as we explore love. If we are lucky, we begin to understand that love transforms our views of ourselves and, ultimately, of the world.

For some of us, we observe parents who show their love for us by sacrificing for their families, working long hours, providing adequate food and shelter, and rejoicing in each of our victories–as we transform into more complicated human beings. There are also opportunities to observe how others love their significant others from various viewpoints in our career progressions.

As we continue to develop as humans, our concept of love usually also broadens, and we discover a capacity to empathize with, or extend something often referred to as brotherly love to, friends, neighbors, and even persons we do not know well. Oftentimes, we will give of ourselves to these people by offering the gift of our time, money, intellect, talents, guidance, and/or best wishes.

Then, as we mature, and if we are lucky, we broaden our capacity to a notion of care, concern, or possibly love for those less fortunate than ourselves in America and in other countries. We care about the environments in which others live-their abilities to live purposeful lives, to drink clean water, to live without crippling diseases, and to raise healthy children of their own.

And, possibly, as we watch our children and grandchildren grow, and as we guide them and shape their capacities to evolve into loving and caring world citizens themselves who will contribute intellect, compassion, and visions for sustainable environments, we will also be extending our expressions of love even farther ahead to future unborn generations.

The love quest–possibly there is nothing like it on our  planet.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lessons Learned–Public Policy Analysis

IMG_0142-1Happy New Year!

Each New Year provides an opportunity to reflect on how to improve ourselves, our families, and our extended communities.  Each year, it seems that extended communities continue to expand.

This year, as I think about how we can engage in positive social action in order to improve the living/economic conditions in more families and extended communities,  I begin to reflect on the advantages and limitations in employing a few analytical frameworks or tools for highlighting potential opportunities and or for solving intractable social problems.  Moreover, I am reminded of the folly of attempting to solve some intractable problems through public policy processes and/or limited perspectives–lessons I learned in graduate school.

Analytical tools and analysis of policy options, though worthwhile, often reflect overt or covert values.  Nonetheless, a combinations of perspectives, interdisciplinary approaches, and analytical frameworks, which acknowledge imbedded values, can be helpful and serve as frameworks for identifying some options to our seemingly intractable American challenges.

I admit it was enlightening, and somewhat fun in graduate school, to be introduced to, and contemplate the advantages and limitations of the social, political, and philosophical frameworks of Henry David Thoreau, Emile Durkheim,  Graham T. Allison, and many others  However, it is the public policy analysis essay of Richard R. Nelson that highlights advantages and limitations of analysis of policies that continues to resonate with, no haunt me, still–when seeking frameworks for positive social action for our families, extended communities, and the future of America.

Though he is known more as a political economist, it was Nelson’s extended essay in the text, The Moon and The Ghetto: An Essay on Public Policy Analysis, that I have reread, reviewed, and contemplated for decades since graduate school–searching for expanded lenses–a framework epiphany that has the power to provide direction.

It is probably the simplicity of Nelson’s question that both intrigues me and still begs for rational, political, and larger societal perspectives.  In his essay, Nelson queries–If a society has the resources, scientific knowledge, and technological capacity to land a man on the moon why does that same society seem unable to solve problems of economic, educational, housing and other “unevenness of human progress” as exemplified in urban ghettos?  Nelson, 1977, offers, “It is apparent that the American political economy pays far less attention to certain values and interests than to others because the voices of certain groups are determining (14).”  In his analysis, Nelson discusses the need to “lay out the topography of political impasse and highlight the arena of battle” that will ultimately furnish direction.

While I continue to reread Nelson’s public policy analysis, my current understanding is that there are interwoven layers of societal forces that include diverse perspectives, shifting political will, the limitations of rational analysis, and social/technological “know how” that are very difficult to harness effectively to solve these seemingly intractable social problems that hinder more widespread societal economic and lifestyle evenness.

Thus, in the Moon and the Ghetto, Nelson shows the advantages and limitations of three policy conceptual frameworks to illustrate the complexity of using rational analysis on specific case studies.  By using these frameworks and the case study methodology, Nelson shows how specific societal problems can be explored by focusing on different aspects such as inadequate policy processes, inadequate organizational structures, or inadequate resource and development.

Nonetheless,  Nelson does not leave us with a definitive framework–all of the aforementioned analyses highlight specific areas, but they appear to fail to provide direction for resolving the problems of “unevenness of human progress” that continue to exist in too many American cities and towns.

As we move forth in the new year, and prepare for the challenges that will inevitably engross many Americans, we are still faced with the question of how can public policy analyses, political processes, or organizational changes add value? In what directions do we want to travel to address the “unevenness of human progress”?  How can interdisciplinary approaches and various disciplines contribute to illuminating the policy dialogues?

Reginald M. Clark (1983), employing a totally different lens attempts to shed light on the question of unevenness of educational attainment in urban Chicago communities by suggesting that we might want to focus on “family worlds.”  Clark’s ethnographic research identified specific and identifiable family interactions that produce high-achieving or low-achieving students well-prepared or ill-prepared for post-secondary education.

As we make plans for 2015, it might be a worthwhile intellectual endeavor to identify where we want to go as a family, community, and country, while at the same time taking a closer look at family worlds and how they are related to the larger public policy issues, political fixes, and social unevenness.

In 2015, how can various  and multidimensional frameworks provide directions for where we want to go?  What are acceptable solutions?

Most Americans Want Some Portion of the American Dream

While the holiday marketing anIMG_0027d promotional blitz seem to go on beyond even normal tolerance for mass marketing of things needed for “the good life,” underlying tensions in American society appear to be distracting from the Holiday Season. While most of us believe we, and possibly our families, deserve some portion of the American Dream because we have worked for it, earned it, or paid for it in some matter, our attainment, or maybe our enjoyment, of the dream appears to be interrelated with the perceptions others have about the trajectories of their lives.

Yes, even if we deserve to earn more, have more, and live better than others, we can observe from the events of the 1960’s through the Ferguson conflict and beyond, that well-earned rewards are themselves tenuously connected to the overall perceptions others also harbor about their access to well-being, justice, and equity.

I certainly do not have any answers, and I believe in working hard to attain a good life for my family and future generations. Yet, I cannot help but notice that there is more crime in some communities than others, and there are income disparities and educational achievement gaps. There are many assumptions why the aforementioned exists including that it is the natural hierarchy of things. However, I do wonder how wide hierarchical differences can be in the overall society and in specific communities before they begin to threaten our overall sense of well-being in America? Is there a tipping point when pockets of crime, disparities, and education gone awry begin to unravel significant portions of our communities? I certainly do not know. However, we can note that there are already cities that industries avoid, communities where unemployment is stagnant, and communities where youth are filled with an overall sense of dread and hopelessness.

Possibly this Holiday Season is a good time to think about what changes we need to discuss or pursue in 2015.

Happy Holidays!

The Holiday Season–A Time to Give Thanks for our “Presents”

UnknownNow, that we have survived election season and have gone directly into the Holiday Season, we can tip this time of mass marketing of purchasing to our advantage by employing the celebratory mood to give thanks to those who have helped us on our journeys–especially our parents, grandparents, and other significant family members.

If we can move pass the stresses of gifts, parties, and awkward moments with relatives, we can seize the Holiday Season as an opportunity to slow down a bit and to extend our circle of interactions to thank those who have helped us develop our values, moral compasses, and foundations that guide and gird us through our education, careers, raising families, and the time when we ourselves strive to pass on legacies.

I join many Baby-Boomers in attending one too many funerals of parents of my friends.  As I listen to those who recount the lives of these parents, it became clearer than ever that we owe so much to the generation born in the 1920s and 1930s. They were those in our families who weathered wars, economic depressions, and the unrelenting Industrial Age.  It is interesting to note that this generation is often called the “Silent Generation,” or the “Traditional Generation,” yet, their legacies speak for themselves.

Our parents and their parents worked long, hard hours, often without complaining, paid cash before credit cards became the norm, sacrificed dreams and luxuries for their children, and believed that the future would be better –if they just did their parts in small ways.

Although they were born before it was possible to take “selfies” with cell phones,  the unrelenting hopes and legacies of love that our parents and grandparents left us can be recounted in detail by some of us.  There were parents who worked two jobs to help make possible college educations for their “Baby Boomer” children.  There were parents and grandparents who were wounded in wars while fighting courageously for our rights to pursue our American Dreams.  There were uncles and aunts who passed from our lives unheralded, but who also labored for us, and guided us, in quiet, but dignified ways.

This Holiday Season, as we carve turkeys and pass around the sides, I hope we take a moment to give thanks to those who left us these foundational legacies of hope and love.  As we pay our respects to their legacies, we cannot help but thank them for believing in the possibilities of  our country, for returning to their farms to feed a nation, for bearing the indignities that only humans can inflict upon each other because of racial and class differences.  Most of all, I hope we thank them for stubbornly clinging to the belief that their sacrifices would lead to a better America for their children.

As we know,  the Silent Generation had their personal  and cultural struggles, and they gave birth to the more vocal and dramatic Baby Boomers who helped America evolve into a more diverse and future-oriented nation.  As a member of the Baby Boomers generation,  I hope that Generation X and the Millennial Generation will advance positive social action, embrace the sacrifices they will face to advance and sustain the ideals of our nation, and pay it forward to the next generations of leaders.

When you think of the “presents” we have already been given, the Holiday Season can truly be a time of celebrations!