WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. January 1, 2020:
The celebrations have ended. The trash and streamers being cleaned up. The innocuous adlibbed television specials mercifully over. The traditional dinner parties celebrating friendship and renewing bonds between us over the years over. The bowl games are about to begin to distract us from a year like few in recent memory, is fraught with anxiety for not just ourselves but for our way of life, our sanity. We have become a nation of fear. We never used to be that way.
It is a lot like 1940 when World War II began. America did not know what was ahead. We did not want to get involved. There was heavy sympathy by the press and prominent leaders not to get involved in the rapidly escalating conflict.
We are in another conflict now. A conflict for our attention. A conflict within ourselves in this country, A conflict with the world as we know it at stake.
At no point ever in my 75 years as an American citizen did I ever think our nation that has long been a beacon of hope for the oppressed of the world, a nation built by immigrants would ever lose its reputation in the world community, and worst yet forsake the proven principles of science, human decency, and compassion and ignore what it says to us at the peril of us all.
We are assaulted daily, if you watch the news with conflicting ideas. Opinion is treated as facts. Feelings interpreted as genuine and entitled and relevant. This is not fact, ladies and gentlemen. Actions are to be informed by research and facts and what is right. And we all know what is right.
I repeat: we all know what is right and when what is happening is wrong.
So since we as individuals have no direct ability to change our leaders in both houses of congress, in the cabinet, in the state legislatures to do our will, how are we to survive this new anxiety brought about by this new anxiety.?
I propose to make a resolution, a personal executive order to focus on the matters I and my family can control. We have to focus locally and not be swayed by the hatreds, and irrationality of congressmen, legislators on every level of government who say anything to influence us to like them, and promise to act in our best interests and that of our great country, but don’t.
We also must learn not to be afraid of them. For that matter, every person that controls you, you have to lose the fear of them that often inhibits your ability to grow.
Every year we fight the same battles personally: the bad habits we have had for years. The preconceived notions that prevent us from learning or wanting to learn. The self-preservation instinct that creates fear of the new, fear of change, and most of all the fear of losing what we have.
Organization, or lack of it, has been my problem all my life. I want to change that, but I succumb to the rationalization to procrastinate one matter I don’t want to do. So this year I will tackle that again and try to fight the procrastinatia. Prioritizing would be new for me.
I will spend more time in churches where the voice of God speaks in your head if you listen. And the more you listen, the more you are pointed to the right decision. It is weird but the church is much warmer and inspiring when it is empty. It seems to rise up around you and rise silently about you to listen to you. The Great Spirit as Indian leaders called it–spoke to them from the land around them.
Turning to your personal world, I need to PAY ATTENTION TO THINGS YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITH YOUR FAMILY, YOUR COMMUNITY, YOUR TALENT.
I resolve to communicate better with my spouse because it is through not paying attention to her creates the discord that is always waiting to flare up when one person is disappointed with the other. So I have have decided to fix this. You know the behaviors that send your spouse off the handle. Well you can stop doing those, I know I do things that irritate the other but refuse to fix them in the past because I was inconsiderate. For the wonderfulness I bring to my relationship, the flaws: not doing things she asks on time, not listening carefully, forgetting things irritate her the most, because she feels it means I don’t care to please her. Well I am fixing that.
When irritations cause rancor in a relationship, the rancor wrecks intimacy, respect, love and caring. So I am going to fix that. And bring the relationship back. The same can be said for estranged relatives. They are only a phone call away. Of course, they could call me, is always my excuse. But see, that is fear and guilt on my part. Abolish that fear of rekindling a relationship or letting the feeling of not caring about extended family keep you apart.
My mother when she was alive would always call me on a Saturday, greeting me with “Don’t worry, it’s just your mother.” She would feel guilty about checking in with us, but she wanted to. If you feel guilty about reestablishing ties. You are just deciding to let them go. That’s the reality. You can always let them know you care about them at the very least.
The same is true of children. As my children grew up, I would always give them warnings, advise them of situations to be aware of, and I still do that in the hopes that some day when faced with the situation in question, they would remember your words and it would help them. Instilling your experience without giving commands is an art. You are investing your experience in them that they can draw on when they need to. They are long gone now out of my home. But we both have a great relationship. They like coming home. And we worry about them to this day.
As my wife’s mother said, “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.”
Your community: You can pay more attention to what your town government is doing. It is in your self-interest to do so, and pay attention to the grandiose plans they have for growing your community and county. If you ignore what they are doing, only worry about your neighborhood or your particular house that is not what I mean. You should engage. Speak out at public hearings, if you are lucky enough to be able to have city government that tells you about the public hearings, and the projects more than 1 week before they vote on it.
I do this website that is my contribution to public service because twenty years ago I realized Gannett was only covering one story a week in White Plains. Now they rarely cover one a month. So I have been doing it for many years now. It is the best use I have put my writing talent to all my life. If you have a talent, try to expand it. Use it for others it will make you feel really good. Or, you can help. I have a friend who serves in a soup kitchen, and particpates in Red Cross training and service. An admirable participation in the community that brings him closer to those less fortunate and extends his sense of compassion and humanity.
This year, more than ever I think I need to do that and become more aware of the consequences of not caring. We have leaders of both parties who do not care for anyone, just as long as they are elected or do what they want. They always have. It is up to us to listen to the human side of us…the rule “do unto others what you would have them do onto you.” Our country used to do that. As individuals in our community we have have to work to rekindle that spirit.
I also have another resolution that works for me: stop watching the news. It just produces anxiety and worry and deflects you from your personal mission with your family, your community, your plan for your life. You cannot control events except locally. Remember that.
So this is how I intend to live through 2020. And for once make it really a better year and grow as a person. Grow each day. Enjoy the honesty and hope our children offer, and remember the good things about your past and carry their legacy to others.
The only way out is through.