Tag Archives: David Quammen

My Birthday Wishes

This Cannon Beach photo is compliments of my sister, Gayle Klein

When I was the executive director of Families First Missoula, one of my favorite topics was “Wishes and Goals.” The point—especially salient for parents experiencing separation and divorce—was that wishes are things outside our control that we pray and wish for, while goals should always be within our circle of control.

Given that today (October 18) is my birthday, wishes are in order. And given that I’m temporarily giving into my impulse to wish, my wishes will be palpably outside my control.

In honor of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, I am officially awarding myself three wishes.

Wish #1: Create equity, social justice, and Adlerian Gemeinschaftsgefühl. For anyone not familiar with Gemeinschaftsgefühl, it refers to developing empathy, a community orientation, and compassion for and interest in working with others for the common good. Technically—and I would argue this point with the Genie—this wish includes two sub-wishes:

Wish 1a: End racism. Not much explanation needed here. Yes, we have cultural and ethnic differences, but that’s mostly a good thing. Differences should be celebrated or embraced or, at least tolerated. We should approach others who are different from us with an attitude of kindness, curiosity, and compassion.

Wish 1b: End poverty. At Chelsea’s graduation from Harvard Medical School, I remember listening to the famous guy who had a plan to end poverty. Maybe it was Jeffery Sachs. His ideas were fabulous, but we keep drifting the wrong direction. Why it is that trickle-down economics never works to do anything but create greater income disparity, but the American electorate continues to believe in the myth that “republicans are better on economic issues?” Not true. Never been true. Which brings me to my second wish.

Wish #2: Promote truth-telling in politics and the media. Although wishing to end racism and poverty is unrealistic, my second wish might be even more unrealistic. . . which is why I’m asking for your help here. We need to stop tolerating lies and misleading statements in the media. Sadly, even National Public Radio and National Public Television can’t stay on point and represent truth. Just yesterday we heard interviews on NPR and PBS wherein an interviewee was allowed to make statements about republicans being better on economic issues. And then a professional journalist/commentator (who used to unfairly rail against Hilary Clinton) paid far too much positive attention to DJT’s continued whining, complaining, and bidding for attention. Seriously? Why can’t the media JUST STOP REPEATING his lies and abusive comments??

Would you join me this year in becoming more diligent about holding people responsible to the truth? Election deniers should get no oxygen to spread their deceit. Covid deniers and antivaxxers should pay their own medical expenses. Yes, I know we live in a post-modern world and I know that means much is subjective. But have anti-vaxxers even bothered to read things like David Quammen’s Spillover? I just did as a part of a book club, and I’m clearer than ever on the long and dedicated history of medical scientists, epidemiologists, and virologists at trying to keep us safe from the next Zoonotic disease outbreak. After a detailed description of the influenza virus, Quammen wrote: “Having absorbed this simple paragraph, you understand more about influenza than 99.9 percent of the people on Earth. Pat yourself on the back and get a flu shot in November. [Rita and I are scheduled for ours on Nov. 3, in Bozeman, where we hope to bump into David Q.]

Wish #3: Out of respect for the several hundred pre-teens and teens I’ve worked with in counseling, I’m compelled to spend my third wish as balm to my unmet power and control fantasies. . . you know, it’s the only and best wish #3: “I hereby declare my 3rd birthday wish as a wish for unlimited wishes.”  

I hope you all have a great and glorious October. And thanks to everyone for the fantastic birthday wishes.