Family/CommunicationReflectionOctober 31, 20161Building On What Came Before Us, Part II


Building upon what's best from the past takes time and care - but it's worth the investment

A few months ago, I wrote a post about fin­ish­ing a sweater my mom had begun knit­ting for me twen­ty years ago. Com­plet­ing her work became a reflec­tion on all the ways in which her influ­ence shaped who I am today — and in fact all the ways in which we are all influ­enced by those who came before us.

img_0085Now that it’s done, it brings an entire­ly new set of reflec­tions. When I look at it, I think of all the things in this world that we re-pur­pose for new gen­er­a­tions. For exam­ple, I love it when old build­ings find new life serv­ing a mod­ern func­tion. Apple recent­ly received the New York Land­marks Con­ser­van­cy’s Chair­man award for its place­ment of Apple stores in four his­toric build­ings in New York.  In giv­ing the award, the Con­ser­van­cy not­ed that, “Apple is being hon­ored for their con­tri­bu­tion to pre­serv­ing, restor­ing, and repur­pos­ing notable his­toric struc­tures in New York City. The com­pa­ny has placed four stores in his­toric build­ings – mar­ry­ing high tech and dis­tin­guished architecture.”

Look­ing at all four Apple projects, you real­ize that in many ways it would have been eas­i­er just to tear down the orig­i­nal build­ings and start from scratch.  For instance, their Soho store, housed in a 1920’s Beaux Art Post Office build­ing, show­cas­es the orig­i­nal exte­ri­or while insert­ing a new inte­ri­or that includes a glass tread stair­case and a huge cen­tral sky­light.  Even though it clear­ly required more time, resource, and care to re-cre­ate the build­ing for the intend­ed use than to build some­thing spank­ing new from the ground up, Apple chose to give new life to some­thing beau­ti­ful by build­ing upon it for the present and the future.

We can do that with ideas, as well. I look at core beliefs that my grand­par­ents passed to my par­ents, and that they passed on to me: that men and women are equal; that the col­or of a per­son­’s skin or their reli­gion does­n’t affect their worth; that our free and fair elec­tions are a deeply valu­able thing.  These ideals are beau­ti­ful, and worth preserving.

A per­son­al plea: please vote in this upcom­ing elec­tion if you are a US cit­i­zen.  And please con­sid­er care­ful­ly: do you want to tear down what we’ve built, giv­ing in to the destruc­tive pow­er of hatred, prej­u­dice and vio­lence?  Or do you want to con­tin­ue to build on those pre­cious val­ues of open­ness, tol­er­ance and inclu­sion that we have fought so hard to estab­lish in this coun­try, and that are even more impor­tant as we face the future?

Think about the world we are con­tin­u­al­ly re-cre­at­ing for our chil­dren, and for our chil­dren’s chil­dren, when you go to the polls on Novem­ber 8th, and make sure the per­son you choose to be our pres­i­dent is some­one you believe has the clar­i­ty, focus and inten­tion to build upon our demo­c­ra­t­ic ideals. 

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