I have been feeling pretty gloomy, these November days. Since the election I have had a real sense of defeat, disappointment, and dissatisfaction. Not just with the resultant “vote”(whether legal or tampered with), but also with the condition in which we find the United States.
In the past I often joked about an old man I knew as a teen; he lived upstairs from my family and was a real curmudgeon. Mr. McDermott: an 80-something Scotsman. He would curse and yell at the television when commercials interrupted his programs. I thought it was funny then, and have made many jokes at his expense over the years. But, now I have a sense of camaraderie with Mr. McD. I get why he was incensed at the advertisements. It’s all about maturity and perspective. We can see, as we attain “d’un certain age”(as the French would say), the foolhardiness of our brethren. We rage at the stupidity of their naïve outlook and shortsighted choices. And we are frustrated at our powerlessness.
Today there is so much more at stake, it seems. Or, perhaps, we are just more informed of how much there is at stake. Maybe we just know too much about war, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, catastrophic illness, environmental disasters, and man’s inhumanity to man and all other creatures. Maybe we just know too much.
Since I have always been a believer in the line President Kennedy attributed to Dante (which has been perhaps loosely reinterpreted through many centuries) that “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who retain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”, these are tough times to navigate.
What do we do, as Americans raised with certain values that seem overlooked and outnumbered? How do we justify apathy? When and where do we see ourselves returning to our idealized version of the U.S.A.? Was all this a dream? Will we awake to find Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower?
November is gloomy. It’s always gray, and chilled, and foreboding. I never thought it was fair that my birthday fell in such a dismal, dreary month. The sky holds the threat of snow here; the sun struggles to break through thick clouds, and then retreats again.
We are stuck with this gray, misty moment. But, as any optimist worth their salt will tell you, the sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun. We have to take a deep breath, get up, and get going again. We have to try to incorporate the goodness and strength and steadfast ethics of our heroes and our predecessors into each action each day. Do good. Do the right thing. Pay it forward. Love thy neighbor. Hug a tree. Kiss your dog right on the snout. Teach your children well. Give Peace a Chance.
We will get through November…..and any other rough months ahead. I promise you, or my name isn’t Mr. McDermott.