January 14 - Goals

Dirt path, with log posts on left side, view of trees and bushes in the distance

I had planned to write about goals for the new year but with the actions of the last week  I am finding it hard to focus on mundane topics. On 1/6 the deep divisions within our country were on full display in our nation’s capitol.  I’ve read many articles from many others about the hows and whys of the events, people with much more experience and understanding of human nature than myself. Today’s problems are not new for the country, only for this generation who had thought they had been put away.

Looking down at a white egret taking off from a dry creek bed

I am experiencing many different emotions, anger, sadness, grief, fear, each one briefly stopping for a moment before my mind runs to the next feeling. I find myself grieving, grieving the loss of trust that will occur. Many years ago I read that a key components of the US is out is that we can live our lives with trust, a confidence that our lives will be safe. Over the last few decades, that trust has slowly been eroded, with this attack weighing heavily on the threads that bind our community. 9/11 contributed, the Oklahoma City bombing, school shootings, the Las Vegas shooting, they all played a role in the increase of fear and the loss of trust in an orderly life. Add in the slow growth of salaries, income equality, the loss of certainty about jobs and promotions, all of these changes increased uncertainty about our lives. Uncertainty about the world, and our place in it has led to fear of losing a job, home, and food and eventually our families and all that we find of value in life.  All of these changes, gradually, building up over time until a boiling point is reached where people have had enough.

Dirt trail with bushes and trees on both sides

As a result of this uncertainty, this chaos, people have searched for ways to cope with these changes. For some, they have been working on change by volunteering to help support their community. Others choose to run for office or support other a candidate’s campaign in order to help improve the place they live. Unfortunately, others have felt unheard and felt they had to use violence to get notice while working to hide their fear, and anger at all of this change. Our country strives to be a country run by laws and not men, but we fall short all too often. Events like this are not the first time our country has experienced division, now it is our time to see that our democracy is not free.  Keeping our democracy and the rule of law requires, not our blood, but our time, our effort to work with the community and not just for ourselves. For without the community, the support of others, we will not survive. The last year, with the pandemic, and the economic disruption have shown how those who choose to only look at their own needs can endanger all of us.

So in the end, I come back to the idea of goals, the idea of improvement. This year, I am reviewing a goal I set a few years ago. This goal is to find ways to give back to the community, to help improve the place I live in. I have already helped out by sharing my experience with autism with other parents, donating more to charities, helping to heal where I can, working to be kind on-line, all ways to help build up instead of to tear down what my ancestors have left for this generation. I’d like to help build a world where trust is not a luxury, but a precious commodity that everyone values. We have seen how easily it can be lost, I want to see it return and leave a bequest for the future. It will be slow work, hard work, but necessary work if we are to regain that better world we want to live in. May we all find a way to help bring this world about.

Pictures taken by J.T. Harpster, prints of his work can be purchased at https://www.redbubble.com/shellcreek

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