I choose to live each day in an upbeat, positive manner.
I must admit, however, to a sense of pessimism niggling at the corners of my mind, threatening to partially drain my half-full glass. It seems that we Americans are allowing ourselves to be deeply enough divided to cause concerning cracks in the foundation of our country.
Maybe I am morphing into a crotchety old fogey with too much time on her hands. During my teaching years I lived and worked at a breakneck pace, perhaps failing to properly notice the ongoing debates pushing us away from each other.
To the contrary, however, I think we have become ever more engulfed in disagreement and dissent. We judge one another harshly about the basic choices of politics, religion, and lifestyle.
We are developing a thick skin of distrust to protect ourselves against dishonesty in many aspects of daily life. We numb ourselves in response to the cruelty of school shootings and child abuse with sadly-calloused attitudes of acceptance and resignation.
Minor gaps in public opinion have widened into chasms. In a time when the population of the planet is more interconnected that ever in the history of mankind, we are somehow less connected than ever.
We cannot hold the people in Washington totally responsible for our current divisive woes: we sent them there, after all. And increasingly we have sent them with clear instructions not to budge one inch from our staunch viewpoints, never to compromise our beliefs, not to even consider an idea from the opposition.
I suggest that each of us, in our own way, consider resorting to good works on behalf of our neighbors near and far.
There are food banks and pantries needing donations and organization. There are nursing home residents and shut-ins needing visitors. There are 4-H clubs, Scout troops, and youth groups needing leaders. There are children needing tutoring or just a good, old-fashioned story reading.
There are down-on-their-luck folks needing house repairs or diapers for the baby. There are families facing catastrophic illness needing meals, rides to the hospital, a few hours of child care. There are the lonely needing a listening ear and a friendly touch.
Of course, the very basis of this solution is the Golden Rule. All that is required of us is to look around, find someone in need, and treat that person the way we wish to be treated.
And was not that exact concept on full display in the Dayton area following the Memorial Day tornadoes? Against a backdrop of splintered homes and uprooted trees, the concerned showed up in full force to care for the ravaged. I have seen no better application of this time-tested principle.
The following “poem” has been showing up of late on posters and T-shirts, perhaps a new translation of the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor who doesn’t look like you / think like you / love like you / speak like you / pray like you / vote like you.
By practicing these actions on a regular basis, we could focus on our agreements rather than our disagreements. We could move back to a true UNITED States of America.
Shirley Scot is a native of Champaign County, Ohio.