Be thankful even in this time of adversity

Our world seems to be coming apart at the seams. A pandemic has swept the globe infecting millions and killing thousands. The government’s response to shut down the economy has created unprecedented personal hardships. Civil unrest has turned to violence. Political rancor vilifies the opponent creating a “cancel culture.”

It is easy to succumb to negativism and begin to see the worst. Everything has a dark side and a myopic view brings this ever more into focus. But is this really the nature of our world? Is a slow devolving into chaos and dystopia all we can expect? I think not.

First, we have seen this (and worse) before and overcome. While our unemployment rates and business failures are significant, our situation pales in comparison to the Great Depression. The fundamentals underlying the economy are still sound and policy is restraining commerce, not market forces. The financial system is under severe stress, but not on the verge of collapse like during the Great Recession. The protests today are not nearly as virulent as the race riots of the 60’s.

Ultimately, our problems today are more of a “self-inflicted” injury. We chose the policies that have led to the economic crisis. We could have acted differently in the initial response to the pandemic and the governmental response. We followed neither existing emergency plans nor rational actions and wee have ended up where we are. For too long we have tolerated inequities in our society.

Yes, there is pain and suffering on the part of those who have lost jobs. The pandemic does make people sick and is deadly to those with compromised systems. There is a great deal of anxiety about what tomorrow will hold. The reality is that change is necessary, and the path forward is not always clear. However, we cannot become captive of our fears.

We will recover, perhaps different in the end, but functional. As if a reflection of that future, stocks are at all-time highs. Perhaps the market sees the future more clearly than we do.

We also seem to miss the forest for the trees, literally. We live in a magnificent part of the country, one that often appears insular from the ravages of the outside. We don’t have massive wildfires devastating the environment. We don’t have substantive unrest tearing apart our urban areas. By in large, we are still a God-fearing, law-abiding, hardworking people. For that we should be grateful.

In addition, I am daily reminded of the natural beauty of this region. Thanks to social distancing, I spend more time at home than I used to. I sit out in my back yard and watch the dogs play as the sun turns the sky a blazing pink. I have walked barefooted across a freshly mown yard and felt the blades of grass between my toes. I recently watched the moon rise above the lake sending a shimmering reflection back across the water.

I like visiting places with more diversity, of food and culture, as well as people. But I love being able to live in the “country” and have a five-minute jaunt to work. Google keeps asking me for information so that it can assist in my commute. I ignore it.

I appreciate the sense of security I feel walking downtown at night (although Covid has given me less reason to be there of late).

I enjoy the stark beauty of the West, but I miss the lush green hills when I am gone for long.

Recently, I sat on the back porch and watched a flock of turkey stroll across the yard (really more like a pasture). A doe and her speckled fawns graze in the background. Our neighbor sent us pictures of a bear and a bobcat wandering through their property. Just another day in the neighborhood.

Even as I write this column, I have found myself looking out the window lost in thought and wonder as I gaze lost in the spectacle of the rolling hills falling away one behind the other in a cascade of shades of green. Tomorrow morning there will be mist above the pond as the sun pokes out over the trees. I never tire of such views, although I have oft taken them for granted.

CS Lewis put it poetically. “It is not the physical objects…but the indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard.” Beauty is the messenger of God to give us a glimpse of Heaven.

I cannot help but love where I live. In fact, I recently said that our mantra should be, “I’d rather be here.” And I would.

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