From where I sit, writing this blog post in my dining room, I can look out of three sides of my house onto the neighborhood where I've lived for the past 30+ years. It's a beautifully calm, sunny Winter day. The quiet is profound. A neighbor just passed by walking his dog.
But turn to just about any news and opinion source you care to name and what will you see? I can almost guarantee you that the world as depicted there will look nothing like my quiet little corner of heaven in Northern Virginia.
In that world, racism is rampant and people are at each other's throats day and night. In that world, catastrophic climatic changes loom over our heads, dooming us to disaster as the seas inundate our coastal cities. A pandemic scours the planet, threatening mass deaths on par with the worst of the plagues of old. Inflation ravages our poor, our border with Mexico is non-existent, and white supremacists stalk our streets. This entire country is a disaster zone.
Whew! I hardly recognize the place. Boy, is something really, really off about how they are reporting on what life is really like here.
I can travel back and forth to work every day, interacting with hundreds of people with ease and civility. I can drive around my small town, enjoying the Christmas lights and decorations, stopping in at a corner coffee shop filled with my neighbors to sit quietly and enjoy a brief moment of community. I can worship as I please, talk as I please, go where I please.
Of course there are limits. I am not saying that everyone can do whatever they want, at any time. Life here is far harder for some than for others. I certainly know what it's like to be poor, for example. I've cleaned bathrooms for a living. What I am talking about is the essential openness and peacefulness of the United States. It truly is a Land of Opportunity.
What I love about national holidays is that they force us outside into the community. We are reminded that so many parts of the the United States are still basically safe and sane, that its people are almost without exception friendly and helpful, and that things are not nearly as contentious as the media reports.
The wicked, horrid view of the country being sold to us by corporate media is almost entirely fictional – or, at the very least, it's a tiny bit of truth that has been so exaggerated and misshapen that it might as well be fiction. It's not identified as such, so we could argue that it's a lie, too, but frankly it's enough just to know that they're trying to sell me on something that is untrue. Don't care why.
So, enjoy your holidays! Go into town. Bask in the glow. Wish your neighbors well. Restore your broken relationships with your family members, and cut each other some slack. We're all being bombarded with planeloads of negative messages, every day. It takes time to shake that stuff off.
And most important of all, silence your phones, if only for an hour.
Photo: "Christmas Shopping in Oxford Street" by Cristiano Betta is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/