It doesn't start "We the liberals" or "We the Christians." It certainly doesn't start "We of white, European descent." No, the Constitution of the United States of America begins with the words "We the people." The bedrock principle of the document that defines our nation is set out in those three words. "We the people" are all in this together. There are no "us" Americans and "them" Americans, despite the efforts of many these days to promote fear, distrust, and even hatred of anyone who is different, be it color of skin, culture of origin, who they love, or any other of the myriad characteristics that make us each human..

The future of "we the people" is being sorely tested by our current political climate. Complex matters are being cast as simplistic issues of good versus bad, and, if you are not wholly on our (good) side, you are one of them, and they are evil. Life is more complicated than that. It requires us to use this large brain we have been blessed with to process information, examine evidence, and question assumptions.

There are countless reasons why each of us holds the opinions we do about the world and our place in it. Some are based on objective, evidence-based facts, and others are formed by the "tribes" we are born into, or choose to identify with. By themselves opinions are just thoughts, but they are significant because we use them to navigate the countless forks in the road we are faced with every day. It is our choice what information we use to formulate our opinions, and how we project them to the world. It is our choice whether to be belligerent or accepting; curious or dogmatic; cruel or kind.

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Ultimately, each of us can only control our own behavior, but that behavior can influence others and can change the world. If we don't approve of a politician, we can vote her or him out of office. If we don't like the policies of a company, we can stop buying their products. We do not have to blindly accept what is currently popular, or "in," or easy. We can choose what kind of world we want to live in.

It may seem naive to some, but I try to treat others as I would like them to treat me. I'm not always successful, but that is how I try to approach the world. It is my hope that "we the people" can collectively act more inclusively, with more concern and kindness for each other than we are currently showing. Our world can be better than it is, and each of us can help move it in that direction.

I choose hope and critical thought over distrust, cynicism and blind acceptance.