“The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer.”

“A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities - all these are marks, not….. of superiority but of weakness.”

On April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt spoke these words right before delivering what would become the most popular speech of his career.

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“The Man in the Arena”, as it’s known to most, is quoted below. I encourage you to read it. Over and over and over again…….

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I love quotes. Mostly because when my thoughts take me to a place I don’t want to be, they help me refocus. They bring me back to where I want and choose to be. It’s a place of optimism, looking on the bright side and trying to learn from every situation I might find myself.

I felt the need to pen my thoughts today in hopes of reminding my Westfield neighbors that we can agree to disagree. Variety is the spice of life! 

Social media and politics can really bring out the worst in humanity. I try to stay away and ignore the “trolls”, “keyboard gangsters” and “keyboard bullies” but enough is enough!

A family friend of ours, Rob Benacchio, has recently been the target of such aggression. 

You may not know Rob and his family well, but I do. Going on nine years to be exact. I became close friends with his wife Michele when our daughters were in the same preschool class at the age of three. Here is what I know of Rob’s character and personality:

Rob is kind, smart and quick witted. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand. He cares deeply for and loves his wife and children. He’s given hundreds of hours volunteering to coach his daughters in Westfield athletics. 

He enjoys an occasional adult beverage every now and then. He’s handy around the house and is always crossing off tasks on his “Honey Do” list that Michele has drafted.

He. Always. Shows. Up. For the piano recitals, sporting events, Girl Scout variety shows, alumni meetings. The list goes on and on.  You name it, he’s been there. He’s extremely reliable.

Rob cares greatly about doing his best in everything he does. That includes volunteering for our great town of Westfield.

Let’s face it, isn’t that what we all want in a public servant? A normal, stand-up human that goes to bat for us and helps our voices get heard.

Everyone’s got an opinion. It’s what makes the world go ‘round. There is more than one right way to do politics.

You are entitled to share your opinion and your right to freedom of speech. But I ask you, before you do, tap into your ability to be empathetic. Remember that everyone running is someone’s father or mother, husband or wife, son or daughter.

Best of luck to all candidates running on November 5th. They are the ones putting themselves out there, being vulnerable and taking risks.

On that day, I hope you exercise your right to vote. I will be voting for ROB BENACCHIO and I think you should too if you live in Ward 1. But if you don’t vote for him, I promise I won’t be a jerk about it. You shouldn’t either.

In closing, I’ll leave you with one of my favorites.

“Great minds discuss ideas;

average minds discuss events;

small minds discuss people.”

- Eleanor Roosevelt 

I believe we can all improve. It’s a practice and it takes time. Imagine if we got 1% better every day. The world would be in a much different place. It’s a legacy our children deserve.

Amanda Como
Westfield, NJ