There are lessons to learn every day, like President Trump should [this portion of the column has been redacted to avoid adding to the continuous national commenting that can be found in 343,324,753 other places.]
And then there are local lessons — some of which come to us through national speakers.
On Thursday, Kevin Laue came to the Venice Performing Arts Center to talk about a flurry of topics about leadership and life. There were some moments of humor and of horror as he discussed growing up without a left arm in a broken home fighting depression, dyslexia and ADHD.
Ultimately, he found his passion in basketball, becoming the first player with a disability to play college and then professional basketball.
He spoke of unconditional love for one another — asking football players to go to band concerts and urging everyone to get to know each other.
“You’re killin’ it with academics and school spirit and academics,” he told the Venice High School teens.
Now, get to know each other. Praise each other for their talents and personalities.
And there was a little tough love, urging teens wanting to live their dreams to make working hard toward them a part of their reality.
“What have you done today to make that happen?” he asked. “If you don’t rewire your brain, somebody else out there is going to. Wake up.”
And there was a simple lesson of love: Spread the compliments. Try giving off three compliments a day for 21 days — it’ll become a habit, he said.
“You want to know why this nation is a wreck? Because we’re all so mean at school. Everybody wants to be appreciated but we’re so slow to appreciate others.”
He gave compliments to three students out of the blue, noting one girl’s smile, another’s style and a boy’s costume — he was a penguin as a part of Homecoming celebrations.
“It’s a negative freakin’ world full of fake people,” he said. “Be positive. Be real.”
After it was over, he told me he enjoys speaking to students.
“I always just wanted to help people because people have helped me at my worst times,” he said. “I don’t know how to be a speaker but I do know how to be real and I think because I have a harsh background I connect with some kids … I just want to make the biggest difference I can the best way I can.”
His website is www.believeinyou.com.
Students told me he made an impression.
“It made me want to spread positivity,” Venice High School senior Chloe Lear said.
“It was pretty inspiring to see how much someone with a disability like that can do just by changing their mindset,” junior Brandon Losito said.
Over at Agape Flights this week, they are still spreading positivity through their efforts to help the Bahamas.
While Kevin Laue works as an individual to help groups of people, Agape is working with groups to help individuals. Both are good things.
Agape Flights CEO Allen Speer was in the Bahamas on Friday and Saturday and is returning Monday. I’m going along to do some reporting from Abaco. I don’t know what to expect but — something tells me — there will be something positive among all the negative.
Speer knows the realities of the Bahamas, but he is buoyed by the response of so many people.
“It has been a joy,” he told me earlier this week. “I think I’m tired and everyone is tired, but we’re rejuvenated by the response.”
It’s easy to be negative. Maybe it’s the default of human nature. But it is good to hear from other people who take personal or national devastation and work to find the rebuild for good.
It’s a good lesson to learn — or at least hear again.