Worst of Times; Best of Times
This fall has brought on feelings that are so conflicting to what I’ve known, or thought I knew about life. As a youngster I saw people reacting to things in ways that often defined a mutual respect and appreciation for one another. When we saw someone stumble we knew it was our job to pick them up as fellow Americans. People moved in from the old country only to stay a while and move westward, but this was possible only through teamwork and the caring acts by others. We were a strong and honorable nation.
It wasn’t just the religious teachings that reminded us of the value of people. It was taught in school, in the movies we saw, and in the daily lives of our neighbors. Kindness was a trait we thought was inbred in us ‘mountain folk,’ but in fact examples of caring were all around us and all around this great nation. We were a proud people.
With the explosion of technology we have become more sophisticated but the fruits of that are mixed. That is, we see the negatives so easily and we tend to favor the ugliness of a few. In truth, murders have always happened as have other acts that bring so much pain and suffering, but now we see those ugly deeds in real time, often from places we’ve never even visited. Yes, we are informed, but rather than being called out to help, we criticize.
We always had small gangs of those who would get drunk and commit their crimes. Prisons were made for them and to protect the innocent from harm. Today, we see more evil than we can even care about. There is little desire to help, or even look away. Sadly, we have become sarcastic and terribly mistrustful. All you have to do is read the social media comments from so many that are so negative. I worry if we have changed as citizens. Like a virus sarcasm spreads as we take our shots at our leaders and anyone who has been accused of wrongs. Is there no longer room for those who makes mistakes to find support as they struggle to recover? Is it truly the nature of man to kick others when they are down? God forbid.
I have asked for readers to send me short stories about random acts of kindness, but responses are few indeed. I have a concern when I see the corruption of our towns and cities. Buildings grow older and the towns crumble. What was once a bright, cheerful wonderland with flowers and happy people are boarded up, or are piles of rubble. Shall we just watch, or shall we decide to help? Can we redevelop our towns and cities? Can we help our friends and neighbors?
As I look out my window I see the wonderful colors of fall. Yellows, reds and deep burgundy paint a picture of the wonder harvest time that follows yet another spring and summer. There’s a crispness in the air that make us want to cover with jackets and sweaters. Football games, whether attended or not, are underway. There is a promise of an upcoming time of Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays not far beyond. Regardless of elections, of on-going discrimination, and a drug culture that is running rampant we can find ways to emphasize what’s good about America?
We can choose to take our shovels and dig something other than dirt. Figuratively, we could find treasure, or a new place to put our pumpkin patch. We don’t have to add our two-cent’s worth unless we find positive ways to encourage others. I admit that that evil will be ever present in this life, but for me, I’d prefer a focus on those things that are right, pure, and helpful to my fellow man.
It’s my experience that adopting short and long-term goals draws our attention away from the negative. Working toward a single improvement at home or at work, or even with a neighborhood adds up to a happier day and better memories. We still have the capacity to help each other. By doing so the rewards are better than the hurt and anger that is brought on by sarcasm. Rather than looking for blame let us look for how we can help.
Thinking back I remember our little town with its schools, churches, and stores. There was a bustle of activity, well maintained lawns, and friends with whom we could pass a little time. Underneath the façade there were hurts and bruises that came with life, but we freely cared about each other and wanted to help.