I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be in the beginning of a new year. I have a dream, a plan and anticipation of success. I’m excited about the opportunities and prospects for joy and happiness. I hope you feel the same way. Optimism drives our success. Let’s be positive about our future make this year our best.
I promise this will be a positive column, but I want to take a hard look at the realities of the year that is passing. Let’s take a quick look back before moving on.
2017 was brutal
The political rhetoric of 2017 was the worst of my lifetime. It was angry, coarse, vile and unforgiving, and no … I’m not talking about the politicians … I’m talking about friend verses friend on Facebook and other social media. I hoped by the end of the year it would improve but it hasn’t. It is fueled and manipulated by the 24-hour news cycle and the need to improve ratings and create controversy on cable news and talk radio. Unfortunately, this technique is bleeding over into network news and the large national newspapers. The painful truth is that we are being manipulated by both sides as part of a marketing plan. If we are angry and/or scared, we’ll tune in to feed the emotions burning inside and it will not stop unless we stop.
Life as a dinner party
Arlene and I belong to a dinner group we call “The Fabulous 50’s!” We are a group of longtime friends who decided not to drift apart. We get together once a month for dinner and conversation. We rotate homes and enjoy good food and great friendship. There are eight couples in our group. Three couples are clearly liberal, four are equally as conservative and one somewhat in the middle. And yes, we occasionally discuss politics but there is no breakup of friendships, no name-calling or raised voices at our monthly dinners.
Yes, for a brief period around the last several elections, there were a few serious discussions, but we refused to let our political beliefs divide our friendships. Life is to short and our friendship means more to us than an ideology or a vote.
Would you want your last conversation with a friend to be of anger?
The importance of our friendship was painfully accentuated when we suffered the sudden and unexpected loss of one of our members, Dr. C. Stephen Burgner. Steve was a longtime dear friend and the loss is painful for our entire group. We were 16, then without warning, we became fifteen. Our loss lays bare the harsh reality that we are all temporary residents of this life and we never know when we are leaving. Once we are gone, we can’t take back the harsh words or tell others how much we care about them. All we can do is regret that our last conversation was of a difference of political opinion and not of friendship. My last conversation with Steve was beautiful and something I will cherish forever.
Here’s a handful of fortunate truths ...
Our republic has stood strong for over two centuries. In my lifetime, I’ve had twelve temporary occupants of the White House. None of them were perfect and none of them destroyed the world. Our Founding Fathers brilliantly created a system of checks and balances that does not give absolute power to our President. I believe in the judgment and will of the American people to make the right choice for our nation. Elections have consequences but are not permanent. We’ll vote again. If we made a mistake or the needs of the nation change, we can select someone new. I believe in the strength of our system and the wisdom of our citizenry. I believe we are designed to love each other, even when we disagree.
So, what’s my point?
There is so much more to the human experience than politics. Can you imagine how things might change if we stop making our Facebook page, Twitter feed and all other social media pages a daily rant about who is or isn’t in office? What would happen if we loved and respected each other regardless of our voting preference? And what about our elected officials? What if they stopped creating attention-seeking controversial sound-bites and actually worked together for the good of our nation and world? (Now I have John Lennon singing “Imagine” in my head). What will happen when we finally realize there is more that binds us than divides us? Can you imagine?
Welcome to 2018.
Let’s create a new attitude of kindness towards each other and optimism for our future. It can start with us.
Politicians will come and go.
Keep your friends forever.