OPINION

Finding the real: Respect and admiration for others is possible

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Jennifer Stultz, Editor of the Pratt Tribune, Kiowa County Signal, St. John News and Great Plains News page

In this day and age, it seems we have lost a certain ability to respect each other and find the good to admire. Particularly thinking of the Presidential election situation and coming inauguration in our country, I find it incredibly sad to see how much time and energy is wasted on pointing out the bad in our elected leaders instead of finding the good to admire.

I wish I could feel free to list here all the things I admire about our leadership, but if I were to do so, it would likely cause someone to feel slighted or upset, and because that would be offensive I must not "rock the boat," so to speak. No disrespect intended.

Listing the good we admire in others should not be offensive in any realm, particularly in the United States of America, a country built on the value of individual freedom and democracy. Perhaps by taking small, unobtrusive steps towards building each other up, instead of tearing down, we can begin to fix what has become so broken in the world we live in and learn to respect each other again.

Starting on a personal level, I must say that one person I admire most is my husband. Despite a long battle with injuries, he enjoys helping others. Me, when I'm tired after a long day, I prefer peace and quiet, solitude with a good book and cuddly puppy in my lap. But my husband will go out at all hours, if needed, to fix a leaky water heater, re-plumb a clogged sink, or just talk with a friend who needs someone to listen. I admire his heart for service.

On a professional level, I really admire the people in our community who continue to bravely lead the fight against the coronavirus. Perhaps most of all, I admire our Pratt County Health Department Director Darcie Van Der Vyver. She puts up with so much insecurity and fear from the public as she sends out information about safety measures,  mask guidelines, testing details, and most recently COVID-19 vaccinations. And yet, most every day she is out there on the front lines, working to help people understand how to prevent, diagnose, treat and defeat the coronavirus. I am sure this is not something she ever thought she would be signing up for when she pursued a job at the health department, but she is steady, knowledgeable and she gets the job done. I admire her fortitude and commitment.

On a political level, I admire the current people we have serving in state and federal House and Senate positions, even our Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. Political parties aside, I am lucky, in my position as a newspaper reporter, to have interviewed Ron Estes, Roger Marshall, Jerry Moran, Laura Kelly and others through the years. Face-to-face, in person, these are all really great people. They are smart, they care about what they are doing. If they don't have the answers, they try to find them and know the right people to tap on the shoulder to get the job done. I am not sure what happens when they get pulled into the fray of discourse in their professions, because often what comes out seems misconstrued, convoluted and a waste of time. But when talking with our elected officials in person, they are willing to go to bat for their constituents, willing to wade through the murky waters of political agendas to try and make life better for those they serve. 

So much respectability gets lost in the constant tear-down of anyone trying to make a difference these days, it is sad. But I admire those who are still willing to step up to the plate and find a way to work out differences and bring about positive change.

One person whom I think has done an admirable job of keeping criticism out of her vocabulary and working to create better lives for children over the past four years has been our now former First Lady Melania Trump. With all the clamor over wrongdoing and political party divisions at the top of our country's leadership positions, First Lady Melania Trump's work has quietly been ignored or simply flown under the radar. On this week's Kids Buzz (page B4) there is a small article about how she has worked to encourage children to Be Best, with their attitudes, education and understanding about the world around them. In the past four years she has addressed well-being, online safety and opioid abuse, especially as it pertains to children all over the world. And I think she is right on. I admire her quiet leadership and believe, as I think she does, that the future of our homes, work, and country depends on how we can teach others to find the best in ourselves and each other.

Learning to respect others starts inside each person, and it's not that hard to do, it just takes a little practice. Now is as good a time as any to start.