It seems a bit odd that there are people old enough to vote who probably don't remember a whole lot about 9/11, much less what life was like prior to 9/11. But the short of it (at least, for me) was that just prior to 9/11, I was a single mom on active duty, repaying Uncle Sam for the benefit of four years of
hazing leadership training and a college education. Before reporting to my first ship, I had been told by a man in a position of authority that it was impossible to strike a balance between serving my country and raising my son... along with a whole bunch of other extremely sexist and racist mean and rude things... things that get people fired these days.
Fortunately, that was not the sentiment of the senior folks on my first ship. Maybe I lucked out and mentors found me. Or maybe the universe sent the people I needed. Or maybe they just decided that something HAD to be done about that totally screwed up Ensign. Whatever the reason, people with more experience were willing to work with me. (Don't get me wrong- it was more "tough love," than "touchy-feely.") So I worked hard. Sometimes I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, but I ran. And it turned out to be a pretty great tour.
So what am I saying here? Well, first off, there are all kinds of people in this world- the ones who are trying to tear others down, and the ones trying to build others up. But even if you seem to run into a disproportionate number of the former, and it feels like all your effort is going into merely being, you can still triumph. Through the Navy and also through making jewelry, I've made friends with people who overcame struggles I can't even begin to imagine. Homeless and selling jewelry on the street to buy food. Trapping squirrels for dinner when their dad's disability check ran out. Running away with mom because dad was in a gang. There are some truly amazing people in this world. But none of these changes occur overnight. Some challenges are so big that it can take years to overcome, and many times, the process is criticized and discouraged- particularly by those who, for whatever reason, chose not to improve their station in life.
There have been many times in my life when another person had the ability to make my life immensely easier or more difficult with a simple action or decision. I have always been grateful for those that took the extra time to help someone (me) who would likely never be able to repay their kindness. And so, I try my best to keep an eye out for those around me who might need a little helping hand... to honor those people who took the time to see me and were willing to show some kindness and compassion. I can only hope that the best way to repay them is to pay it forward. :)