These precious, privileged years

Calvin & Hobbes, a syndicated comic strip from the late 1980s into early 1990s, was very popular, clever and full of current events/philosophical commentary. I have one strip laminated and still on my fridge. Calvin says he’s going to write a self-help book. His mission is to help people get off their addiction to self-help books and his will be entitled: Shut up and stop whining: How to do something with your life besides think about yourself. My point is: while my original rough draft sounds suspiciously like self-help to me, I’m a fan of Calvin’s perspective, so hopefully I’ll fix this finished column so it doesn’t come across that way.

Amidst all the national and world-wide disorder and chaos, please remember it’s no worse than countless generations have dealt with. History teaches us there have always been aggressive people obsessed with power and greed. It also teaches that the more moderate among us prevail to calm the turbulence and move forward rationally. Always. The sky is not falling.

Throughout history there have always been tough issues to deal with. Reasonable people can disagree. But in disagreeing, we don’t have to be rude, violent or insulting to others. We don’t have to agree to be able to work together courteously. We can respect the different viewpoints of others. And these years, which so many of our peers, classmates, contemporaries and loved ones are not privileged to be experiencing, are precious.

I mentioned “countless generations” so let’s look at ours. Simply: we live in the easiest and most plentiful conditions the human species has ever experienced. Please re-read and reflect a minute on that sentence. Seems to me if we regularly, routinely, ritually even, reflect on that, we’ll be a bit more appreciative of all we have rather than focusing on what’s currently imperfect. A regular routine often becomes just that: routine. But a quiet ritual is scheduled calm time.

I’m suggesting taking the time to stop, daily, and be thankful for how fortunate we are and for all we have. For our health, our families, our friends, our living conditions in the 21st century United States and because you’re reading this, for these precious years that many didn’t get to experience.

I’m not suggesting the three previous paragraphs are the idealistic recipe for peace on earth. While I sure hope to keep a strong dose of idealism in my life-long thinking, please don’t misinterpret. Acknowledging and accepting harsh realities is an essential prerequisite to any actions being meaningful and effective. I’m talking about personal, private coping behaviors in the face of those who are assertively trying to distract, divide, disrupt and convince us there are great inequities to be addressed. Yes, of course there are issues. Some to be solved and some to be managed. But simply, these are precious years to be living and a great culture to be living in. If we don’t recognize and appreciate that, we’ve been misled.

Other people and cultures on this tiny, tiny planet, in this incomprehensibly vast universe, due mainly to religious certainties or national boundaries, are in fervent disagreement and wake up each day consumed with anger and hatred. I feel for them and for what they were born into. I don’t know about you but every day, everywhere I go, I see friendly people. And why not? We have so much good all around us. I’m suggesting we choose to focus on appreciating all we’re fortunate to have. That’s something we all can hopefully do.