I can remember, and it doesn’t seem so long ago, that there was no way I or, for that matter, the rest of the world would ever see a day this deep into a new century. Hell, I can remember watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February, 1964. How’d I get so old?
Since those days so long ago, it seems there has been so much progress. Or is it so little?
What our phones alone can do is mind boggling. That we can take a picture of a black hole in space is stunning. That pitchers are routinely throwing 97 mph pitches is incredible. Perhaps more incredible is that hitters are whacking them out of the park.
And, yet, the income gap is at historically high levels. The wealth gap makes the income gap look fair. The world is literally on fire; no, it’s drowning. No, it’s both. Don’t look now, but our kids are pissed. And they should be. We are leaving the bacchanalia, having had all the fun we can take, and left them with the mess. To my daughters and grandchildren, I apologize.
So, what about this new year? Got any sense that we can do better?
There’s a presidential election this year. Typing this on Community Action’s tab prevents me from commenting by name or even party, but I think you know what we need to do.
But there’s so much more, much of which we are capable of pulling off if we can only find the will. We can make a better behavioral health care system. We can slow the rising temperatures. We can pay our workers better wages. We can fund early childhood education. We can reduce student loan debt. We can make more peace, less war. It’s up to us.
Sacrifice. It isn’t the word most people want to hear these days. But sacrifice can have a net benefit because we really are all better off when we’re all better off.
Almost all of us make our decisions based on what’s best for ourselves, or maybe our families. That’s understandable; we want a better life.
But what if we factored into our decisions how those decisions might affect those around us? What if, for example, we pushed our elected officials to consider equity when decisions were made on how to fund or govern our public education system? Or what if we agreed that holding the hand of a confused, mentally ill person to help them get through their day was better than spending mountains of money on the pain that comes with an overdose?
Yes, it might cost us, in the short run, just a little more but the long-term benefit will compensate.
Walk that mile in their shoes. Then think again about how you would feel if the world turned its back. Then make the adjustment you know needs to be made. I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel better about yourself and your world.