Opinion Columns & Blogs

Take time to have fun and look beyond the media's headlines

As we are nearing end to this year, this is my last column for The Olympian's Diversity Panel.

There have been a lot of events that happened during the year. The recent midterm elections brought more of a difference in political party balance for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Washington state Senate and in other chambers across the nation. There’s the debate over immigration reform, the growth in radical insurgency here in the United States and overseas. All of these areas are important topics that need work, but must be handled with insight and forethought, compassion and finding solutions that work and can be implemented.

It’s our responsibility to take the time to do a bit of research, so we can understand why events happen and look at the positive and negatives aspects of each issue. We must focus on the positive and not let the negative aspects get to us.

Religion is one topic that can be controversial. We are quick to pass judgment on other religions. But how many people can actually say that they have read reference books from other faiths such as the Quran or Torah? Shouldn’t we all be fair and open-minded, tolerant and not be condescending or narrow-minded?

We also must have a greater knowledge of American government. What are the three branches in government? How many people can answer that question? Too many people don’t know that the three branches are the executive branch (the head of state), the judicial branch (interpreting laws) and the legislative branch (enacting laws). As central to the U.S. Constitution, this is something we should all know in middle school, but how much do we really know about our government and how it operates? Is our knowledge superficial, or do we have a depth of knowledge?

While expanding our knowledge base is important, so is bringing balance to our lives. We all seem to find less time during the 24 hours in each day to balance our lives.

Rather than finding the time to have fun, such as going to the park with the kids, the zoo with the family or to a ball game, we seem to constantly run from one task to the next. We battle work and traffic on a daily basis. Instead of doing an eight hour day at work, it creeps to 10 hours or 12 hours with our daily commute on top of that. Too often, distractions force us to pay less attention to what is really important.

My point is the importance for each of us to take the time to be with family, friends and neighbors, building a community that is culturally diverse. We can learn about other cultures by sampling different foods — try it, you’ll like it — and building our base of knowledge about other religions, practices and lifestyles.

It’s fun to know why things are the way they are, which also builds our understanding, our tolerance and compassion for others. Reach beyond the media’s headlines and don’t just take the media’s version of events. Research can be interesting, and sometimes there is more to the story than what is being reported.

Balance each day and find time — and leave room — to have fun.

Those are my final thoughts as I complete this writing assignment. Take extra time to be compassionate and tolerant, to understand with depth and embrace diversity. These elements make our community and the United States the best place to live.

Bob Nakamura, president of the Olympia chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, is a retired U.S. Army finance corps noncommissioned officer. A member of The Olympian’s Diversity Panel, he can be reached at sgtmilehibob@yahoo.com.

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