Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap . . . but by the seeds you plant.
- Robert Louis Stevenson
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I wish you all peace, contentment, and joy this holiday season. For the benefit of all, I offer the cautionary observation that our society often publicly associates the holiday season with the notion of happy times. I hope all of us achieve that goal of true happiness. The reality, however, is that we may want to keep in perspective the fact that the pressures of life and work, as well as the conflicts and challenges in our relationships with others, do not simply disappear this time of year. In fact, December brings colder weather, shorter daylight hours, and sometimes the added pressure to be “happy” in our lives during the holidays, “just like everyone else seems to be.” As a result, some of us may experience unrealized expectations and related sadness and loneliness that make this time of year more difficult (not easier) to find happiness. Accordingly, please consider the benefits in both heightening our awareness of the hidden challenges this time of year may bring, and making extra efforts to reach out to people in a friendly, compassionate, and civil manner. During December, let’s enhance our individual and collective personal and professional lives by: looking out for and assisting one another; giving others the benefit of the doubt in addressing conflict; encouraging understanding and trust; not holding grudges; and, encouraging open and constructive communication. Sharing a kind act may mean a great deal to another person, and may also improve our own well-being. Also, remember that the BAMC’s Lawyer-to-Lawyer Committee is here to help those of us who may be going through a difficult time during the holidays, or at another time of the year, in a confidential and caring way.
On the subject of planting seeds to positively impact others’ lives, I recently had the privilege of attending the Drug Court Program Graduation Ceremony, led by Circuit Court Judges Nelson Rupp and Joseph Quirk. This program, which the BAMC strongly supports, provides non-violent drug offenders an opportunity to avoid stronger sentencing consequences, and to positively change the direction of their lives, if they stay clean, sober and employed during a probationary period. The program participants face addiction issues, and many have been incarcerated. They have been exposed to dangerous situations, committed serious crimes, and brought turmoil to themselves and those who care most about them. At the ceremony, each of the program’s graduates presented a thoughtful and inspirational speech that expressed remorse and gratitude, and described an awe-inspiring level of commitment, willpower, and personal growth. I recall that, several years ago, while attending one of these graduation ceremonies, I was re-acquainted with a participant who I had known in high school. He had been an all-star athlete who seemingly had everything going for him. In speaking with me at the ceremony that day, he expressed regret regarding some choices he had made in his life, and how appreciative he was to get this second-chance to succeed. That conversation reminded me that, through these and other programs, we as lawyers help plant the seeds to build a strong, supportive, collaborative community that encourages people to become accountable, productive, and responsible citizens. By planting these seeds, the people who participate, and our society as a whole, reap huge benefits.
As always, I invite you to work and participate with other attorneys in this organization on endeavors that you find relevant and important. Please join with other BAMC members in working together to continue to plant the seeds to improve our practices and lives through educational, professional development, career building, networking, leadership development, technology, lawyer referral/pro bono, and community outreach programs. Have a fantastic December, and a wonderful holiday season.