Don’t ask me why, but, even as a kid, I believed almost anything was possible. Good would triumph. Solutions would be found. Where’s the evidence?
I grew up in a second-floor apartment with two parents who were not high school graduates. My mother graduated from a two-year commercial high school program, and my dad left school after the eighth grade since he needed to work as the oldest of a family with nine kids.
Thinking of going to college was not a subject thought about, much less talked about, in our family. Perhaps it was that college was for those who had money or were in a different class, whatever that class was, but it wasn’t something encouraged or fostered in my family.
When I got to high school and began thinking about college, I was told not to set such a goal. Play it safe. Don’t reach so high. Settle for a known result.
Those admonitions never sat well with me. I would get angry, not at those giving their advice, but that the consensus in my family’s world was that settling was better than reaching; safe was better than the unknown; the middle was better than the heights.
The ideas or values promoted in my family were working hard all the time (I can still see the wooden stairs leading up to our apartment that needed scrubbing each Saturday morning) and helping others. The working part was something I thought everyone did. We didn’t sit in front of the TV watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. You worked because that was what you were supposed to do, no excuses.
Helping others came from being part of St. Anthony Catholic Church. My father was a very active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which helped less fortunate families in the neighborhood. My mother and father worked at fundraisers like bingo nights. There were also pantry showers for the nuns to help them keep their convent next to our school operational.
So , if I combine anger, a work ethic and caring for the community, I have to conclude that’s what produced my sense of optimism, which has only increased as I have grown older. I can only guess what produces the optimism I see today in those from various age groups.
There’s something going on in our country today that, for me, rings of optimism. Young people, grandparents and the folks in between are taking to social media with more than a considerable amount of force. If you don’t participate on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, watch YouTube or use Twitter, you are missing some of the optimism I’m referring to. It’s like an “old time” rally in which you can participate while sitting in front of your computer or in which you can be a part of while using your phone anywhere you happen to be.
Reading all the comments I get on something I post on Facebook is more than amazing. People are talking! They don’t all agree with my posts, but that is how it should be. Some miss the point of a message completely. Some get angry. Some show their inability to spell and use grammar correctly, but it is all part of a process that gets people talking, even if they will never meet face to face.
When you have an enthusiastic and engaged electorate, people will go out and vote. When you have vast differences in opinions among all age groups, you get action.
I checked various sources and found that approximately 219 million Americans are eligible to vote but only 146 million are registered to vote. And of registered voters, only 42 percent actually voted in the 2014 congressional elections, while 62 percent voted in the 2012 presidential election.
Take from those numbers what you will, but if you are eligible to vote, register to vote. Get angry at whatever you believe you should be angry about and make a difference. The numbers are on the side of the optimistic.
The first thing you can do is participate in the upcoming caucuses. The Nevada Democratic Party caucus will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 20 at Boulder City High School. The Nevada Republican Party caucus will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 23 at Boulder City High School.
— Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-339-9082.