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Ester Marsh: We all need more respect, responsibility, honesty and caring

We all agree that we are living in some very trying times. And I am going to be open and honest with everyone. Nope, this has nothing to do with politics, the vaccine or even faith. It is a huge part of healthy living. It has to do with respecting each other, taking responsibility for our own actions, caring for our communities and being honest, not only to ourselves but to others too.

It breaks my heart when I hear that 30-plus year friendships have broken down due to opposite believes. How about the families that have been ripped apart due to opposite thinking? I love this quote from former president Harrie S Truman: “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at end.”

A hodgepodge of cultures, races, faiths and beliefs came together to somehow make it work. So many challenges came before, but then COVID hit. And we all have seen changes we don’t like. I don’t believe in anything extreme. Too much exercise, too much alcohol, too much food. How about too narrowminded, too stubborn, too selfish, too mean?

Respect, responsibility, honesty and caring are four core values of the YMCA. I have used them often to explain to a member (young and old) why we have put something in place or why we are doing something this or that way, or why their behavior is inappropriate.

I am going to use it now to relay my thoughts. Why can’t we respect each other because we are different? Where did “let’s agree to disagree” go and move forward with respect? Why can’t we take responsibility for our own actions?

Be responsible, not only for our families but our communities too. We all must take great precautions for being socially responsible for the greater good of our communities. And being honest is so much easier than remembering a lie, right? And why have we stopped caring for each other so much?

I am a true believer that we need everyone to make anything work. We need to stay calm and collected, especially in high stress situations.

Since COVID-19 came along, I have seen too many panic situations, like when we run out of toilet paper, or hand sanitizer, or gas. Then there’s panic over not everyone thinking the same way you are.

Let’s look at the definition of panic: a “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.”

It’s not a behavior that can be of help in any situation. I was so touched reading different articles about the 20-year anniversary of 9/11. But it also made me so sad, not only for what happened then, but how we are completely the opposite now. Instead of coming together, we drifted apart. We are still the same people yet now there is so much anger and frustration and division.

As many of you know, I am a great animal lover, with horses being my
No. 1 love. If I panic, they do the same just because I did and are more likely to get hurt in the process. If I would be mean and frustrated, they would try anything to get away from me. When I have patience and care and act kind, eventually I get the results I am trying to reach. And yes, even with horses there is a lot of compromising.

We are not that much different. By lack of compromising, shouting, ridiculing, social media slamming, hatred and division, we absolutely will not move forward, and as a society we will be broken more and more.

Sometimes it is easier to get frustrated with what is going on and get mad at the people who do not think like you, but I have made a conscious decision to try to be kind, to understand and to narrow the gap. Wouldn’t it be great if we all try respect, responsibility, honesty and caring?

Of course, love can move mountains and, in the process, bring us closer together again.

Ester Marsh is Health & Fitness Director of the JF Hurley family YMCA.

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