True Public Service

It is a gruelingly difficult time in our country. We have the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world by far, we are suffering an economic crisis and living under an uncertain and frankly terrifying political landscape where our fundamental democratic institutions are under attack. It is an easy time to lose hope and faith in humanity. 

We were all hoping that the first month of 2021 would provide us with some relief after a harrowing 2020 filled with the pandemic, racial unrest, and a contentious election. But 2021 so far has matched and in some ways exceeded 2020’s level of anxiety. The insurrection for me was a culmination of despicable behavior by many of our politicians marked by outright lies and disinformation that surpassed anything I have experienced from politicians before. The post-Presidential election era has exposed which of our politicians are more interested in self-service than in public service. Even though I should know better by now, for some reason each time another politician puts their own interest ahead of the public interest, it just breaks my heart and further instills a distrust in our elected officials. 

I have been trying to temper my distrust so that it doesn’t spread to my view of humanity as a whole. This is precisely the time where we must find the good in the world, the helpers, the generosity, the compassion and the love that I can attest still exists in our society. Fortunately, I witness true public service from people that restores my faith in humanity every day. For me I find hope and faith in small acts, like members of my family, ranging from age 6 to 60, showing up for my elderly mother in various ways. Like my colleagues at ASU being invested in helping the next generation find their way in the field of architecture. Like my colleagues at the National Organization of Minority Architects donating their already limited time and energy towards the worthy cause of making the profession more accessible and supportive to a wider swath of people. 

My mother turns 85 next week and struggles with some health issues including dementia. It warms my heart every day to witness the amount of care and love each one of my family members feels and shows for my mom daily. I see this love and selflessness, which includes my brother taking her to doctor’s appointments, my sister managing her medications, my out-of-town siblings mailing items that bring her joy and comfort, and my nieces and nephews making sure that they visit regularly with their children, and it heals my heart at a very destructive and disappointing time in our world. 

I recently started teaching part time at The Design School at ASU. In my first few classes I took heart in the kind and helpful behavior of our lead professors towards young students just starting out in the field. I was taken by their dedication towards the students and how they used their power to empower and serve future generations rather than to gain more power themselves. 

I am a proud member of the Arizona chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). As the Membership Chair, I was meeting with people from around the country who are newly starting state chapters of their own to discuss how they can get new members. This group of dedicated people who are busy professionals but who wanted to fill a need for minority representation in the built environment were better examples to me of true public service than any politician I have encountered lately.

I find inspiration and courage not in our elected officials these days but in my friends, my family, my colleagues and my community. That is what gets me through and makes me hopeful for the future in this unquestionably difficult time. I hope you find hope, faith and peace during this challenging time in ways that are meaningful to you.

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