The holidays are upon us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus or something else entirely, this time of year genuinely boils down to people who are more a little more forgiving, parents who are a little more patient or drivers who are more apt to let someone cut in front of them. It’s the season where our human spirit shines brightest and our hearts open widest.
A tumultuous 2017 carried heinous acts of violence, blatant bigotry, a pulling back the veil on women being subjected to sexism and demoralized by men, and a nation embroiled in an impossible schism over its leader. People rioted. Innocent people were shot for no reason. The once seemingly strong-seamed nation unraveled before our eyes and frayed at every edge; we were split by anything and everything, more than I can ever remember.
On August 2, 1909, the Lincoln penny was introduced with the Latin phrase: E Pluribus Unum. This translates to “out of many, one”. The President’s likeness that garnished the front of that penny once said, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” He went on to say, in that same quote, “I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” We are at a crossroads and the time is now.
Special interests from all sides fold their arms unwilling to budge their position. We argue for argues-sake as though four years old and refuse to admit we might be wrong. All media, social and otherwise, went from a past of reporting facts and things that happened to beguiling us with opinions (there used to be a special section of the newspaper set aside and clearly labeled for that) and reporting what might happen however infinitesimal the chance.
Each of us reads and hears a different convoluted message. Each of us has to trudge through the news swamp, buried in more information than you could ever possibly consume, to discern the news that might not only be relevant but accurate. Yes, we are swimming in a growing ocean of news, reporters who have a twenty-four hour void to fill each day and do so with anything they can get their hands on, and we are drowning in it. Thrashing to stay above enough to breathe, the attention we want to give to the important things, gets buried in the dark depths and lost to our frantic kicking.
Stepping down from my soapbox, my message is simple: the larger the group of people gathered, the harder it is to come to a consensus. We are a blend of races, creeds, economic statuses, backgrounds and interests… And that’s what makes us great. It is also what can divide us with little or no effort.
Which brings me back to my opening statement. Despite our differences, no matter how little we see eye to eye, there is one thing that can pull us back together: we are all human beings. That is our umbrella in this teeming storm.
The calendar (and my wallet) demands we cannot have this holiday year ’round. Time cites we must wait another eleven and a half months before it can find its way back into our lives. But in our hearts we can hold the torch. How we greet those who bring us to anger, how we respond to their opposing view on a topic you hold near and dear, and how we part ways with those unable to reach a consensus with – that we can carry with us everyday.
And to those bent on separating us and confusing us with fictitious facts? To those, we together as human beings, must give our undivided attention.
Happy Holidays Everyone.