I’m often asked if it’s difficult to come up with column ideas week after week. I blithely respond that it’s no problem at all, while keeping my fingers crossed and praying that the divine Source of all ideas will come through for me one more time.
Holidays are an especially difficult time for anyone expected to come up with a regular offering of something that is both brand new and absolutely traditional. Ministers are familiar with the problem, and so are stand-up comics.
In December the minister is faced with the task of retelling a story every one of her flock has heard since infancy. How can she possibly tell it in a new way, a way that will open their hearts? At least the stand-up comic has no shortage of new material as our fearless leaders open their mouths to change feet.
All I have to offer on this very powerful day, which is both the winter solstice and a full moon, is a dose of reality as I see it. So let’s start with the news. The reports we get from the mainstream media are chosen by a few hundred people from a population of nearly 400 million. They choose the stories that are the most dramatic, heart-rending and downright terrifying because those are the stories that sell advertising.
That's right; their purpose is not to inform or enlighten us, but to convince us to invest in will-o’-the-wisps and widgets. So the FBI report that violent crime is down by 5.3 percent and hate crimes are down by 4.2 percent is not considered news. Instead we’re told about a young mother, dead because she placed her body between her baby and idiots with guns. While we're thinking about this tragedy, which is very real but which we can’t change, we’re not taking care of what we can change.
So I’m gonna take a big risk here and suggest that you turn off whatever your media of choice and look around at what our neighbors are doing, then choose a place where you can help. If we want fundamental changes in the world, like peace on Earth, then we have to get out there and help to make it happen.
Our neighbors are teaching children how to escape a fire. They’re real firemen and real heroes. Some get together after working all day to serve, unpaid, on local boards and advisory committees, trying to make life better for all of us. There are people wrapping toys at Santa’s Workshop, feeding abandoned animals, being foster grandparents to an entire classroom.
There’s so much to do. Homeless people need food and shelter, our beautiful environment needs protection and residents in assisted living would love to have visitors. By mentoring at-risk youngsters, you could help cut the crime rate even more.
Kind and loving people outnumber the jerks thousands to one, so let’s get out there and improve the odds.