Our world has become very polarized amidst differing political viewpoints.

Social media is flooded with political arguments from both sides of the fence. While this is not a politically motivated article, politics do play a part in why I chose to write this piece. Social media posts are not necessarily fact checked, so anyone can post their view on any particular topic.

Instead of believing what the Democrats, Republicans or any other political party has to say, I choose to believe in people and the good we can do for each other.

At Reede Gray, our focus word for the month of January has been courage. We teach the children to do the right thing, even when others are not and to try new things, even if they might fail. This can be a difficult task for children and adults alike, but putting someone nearby to support and encourage them through the process can make these tasks so much easier.

I recently watched a video in which teachers pulled students aside and told them the phrase, “I believe in you.” The reaction from the students was that of initial disbelief to a feeling of self-worth, bringing a couple of these students to tears.

The power of our words and our actions can be an incredible difference maker to other people around us. Our lives as adults can get very hectic. Job expectations, family matters, money and, yes, political issues can be very taxing on our mental well-being. It’s important to have people you trust in your life that you can talk to and someone to help you deal with the daily stress.

I used to attend the Minnesota basketball coaches’ clinic and had the pleasure of listening to University of Minnesota public address announcer Dick Jonckowski present at the luncheon. He was a gifted speaker who would easily bring smiles to the faces of more than 300 basketball coaches with his humorous storytelling and one-liners.

I don’t recall the stories or jokes, but I do recall him ending his session each year with a quote by author Zig Ziglar which said, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.”

So when you are having one of those days where things just seem to keep piling up, smile and greet as many people as you can. It may have an impact on someone who is having the same type of day you are.

Wouldn’t it feel great to help someone turn their day around?

– Paul van der Hagen serves as the principal at Reede Gray Elementary School