Conflicted for the Holidays

I go into this 2023 Christmas season feeling more than a little conflicted.

Boston Common, Christmas Tree, Massachusetts State House, 2023

Boston Common Christmas Tree

On the one hand, we have put the Covid-19 pandemic, with its closures and restrictions, its isolation and concerns, behind us. Holiday celebrations have returned in full swing with Christmas markets, concerts, revels, craft fairs, holiday lights, and parties brightening the season.

On the other hand, we have wors in Europe and the Middle East and a contentious presidential election with democracy itself at stake. The Supreme Court has been corrupted by bribes and payoffs; its decisions politicized.

Our Conflicted Citizens

The American people are divided—and intentionally so—in ways that have not been this sharp since the Vietnam War. Civility has retreated from both our everyday activities and our communications as “we the people” grow more contentious, insulting, hostile, and downright threatening to one another.

Empty store shelves, shoplifting, conflictedShoplifting has become such a problem that major department stores have closed and retreated from some downtowns.

Do I think that shoplifters should be shot, as Donald Trump recommends? No. But I do believe they should be arrested and prosecuted. Stores should not have to remove their goods from shelves and the majority of law-abiding citizens should be able to shop without interference.

Finding Reasons to Be Positive

bottle of wine, glass of wine, conflictedIt’s easy to be conflicted and saddened by all of this. Just watching the six o’clock news is enough to make one open a bottle of wine. Where do we find hope amidst the violence, the fear, the killings, the new and more restrictive state laws, the book banning, a wave of anti-Semitism, and the ongoing war on women?

As usual, to find normality just examine at the life you are living right now. Look around you and consider your daily life, not the image of it we see on TV. We do have things to be joyful about. Consider these:

Things to Be Grateful For

  • No enemy is lobbing thousands of rockets over our borders.
  • Neither are terrorists popping out of holes in the ground to murder, rape, brutalize, and kidnap our citizens.
  • Russia does not have troops on the ground in America, fighting to seize our country.
  • The NATO alliance has grown and is stronger than ever.
  • The economy is booming: The stock market is up and the Standard & Poor’s index is at a 52-week high.
  • Unemployment is has gone down below 4% for the longest stretch in 52 years.
    • Over 13 million jobs have been added.
    • Wages have increased as companies compete for workers.
    • Inflation has fallen to 3.2% and prices are dropping.
    • Gasoline prices have come down to $3.29 per gallon.
    • Unions are gaining strength—which boosts middle class prosperity.
    • Prescription drug costs have declined, and the cost of insulin has been capped for seniors on Medicare.
    • The economy grew by more than 5% last quarter.
    • Infrastructure projects are underway.
  • We can turn on faucets and get clean water in our homes whenever we want it.

Good News – Bad News

So, there you have it: bad news and good news confront us every day. Which do you prefer to dwell on?

The news media have clearly chosen to dwell on the negative, playing the same game as in 2016 when their skewed reporting and false equivalence helped put Donald Trump in office. (NOTE: When researching the stories on shoplifting, I found they originated with Fox News and were disseminated on other news outlets.)

We do not have to fall for this deceptive ratings game.

Chevrolet, Christmas, commercial, 2023Let us all try to stay positive, people, and keep our chins up. Look on the bright side, not the dark side. We may not be all in this together, but we can make our society better than this. Watch this Chevrolet commercial for an idea on the kinds of things we can all do. (Warning: it will make you keep tissues at hand.)

Do the right thing. Be kind. Help others. Make a difference. Even in the little things. Especially in the little things.

That’s what it takes. Are you with me?