Janet Sheridan: A better world
I listen to the national news, and it alarms me: crumbling infrastructure in sprawling cities, abused children in homes where they should be safe, unspeakable murders in peaceful towns, the weak apologies of elected officials involved in questionable acts, counter-claims of racism and police brutality, mentally ill or evil people wielding knives, guns, cars, fire, and poison to harm others.
I pay attention to news reported from around the globe, and it, too, troubles me: terrorists running rampant and committing atrocities, nations encroaching on their neighbors, the young and weak dying from hunger and preventable illnesses, planes dropping from the sky, bloody uprisings and revolutions, the degradation and abuse of women, the havoc of man-caused and natural disasters, the constant brutality of war.
I think, “Surely, in my town, in my state, throughout the United States, and around the world, good things still happen. Don’t they? People are still good. Aren’t they?”
As I search for answers to my questions, my unsettled mind begins to reason, calm, and clarify my beliefs:
I believe malls, churches, saloons, factories, homes and stadiums everywhere are filled with mostly good people who love and are loved in return; people who smile when they greet others, cry when those they care about are hurt, meet the challenges they face, and feel a sense of accomplishment when they learn something new or do a good job.
I believe that somewhere at this moment, a mother rubs her finger with tenderness along her baby’s cheek and thinks about raising her children to be good people; a father hangs a swing and worries about providing for his family; children run down a sidewalk, a dirt path, an unpaved road, or a city street to greet a returning parent; a man holds his elderly mother’s elbow as they walk into a clinic; a grandfather draws a granddaughter close and whispers how proud he is of her. Workers smile. Neighbors wave. Strangers try to be helpful. Teenagers engage.
I believe all of us laugh. Oh, how we laugh. Around the world in every country at any time, we laugh. Our laughter is the outgrowth of the happiness we experience as we gather in backyards with friends, watch our children in school performances, lift our voices in communal singing, do our jobs well, linger at the table with our families, and sleep soundly in cool rooms before waking to another day.
We also know sadness, fear, pain, and discouragement; and because we have endured these feelings ourselves, we hug those who grieve, nurture the sick, rush to the injured, comfort the lonely. We volunteer in schools, soup kitchens, and hospitals even when no one notices; and we give generously to neighbors in need even when we don’t agree with their politics.
I know we can be bossy, judgmental, impatient, hurtful. Some of us have pasts we rue; most of us have broken the speed limit or told a lie, and all of us are prone to crankiness when tired or hungry. But we understand that we are flawed, that we have erred, that we have hurt others; and so most of the time we do the best we can, forgiving ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors.
We are human and thus capable of wisdom and foolishness, empathy and indifference, tolerance and anger; but we like ourselves more when our better natures prevail.
Such realizations lead me to believe that we humans are more alike than different, to think that in Craig, Durango, and Salida; Denver, Detroit, and Dallas; Canada, Armenia, and Tunisia most people are good; most of us strive to do the right things.
Even in the face of the ugliness the news brings each day, I believe in us.
Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.
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