I just read in a new poll taken in the United States that the majority of respondents claimed they felt they were not as well off as they’d been two years ago.
Were these people living in Shangri-la two years ago?
I would argue that the vast majority of Americans are far better off today, at least in a material sense, than most other people on the planet, just as they were two years ago, or ten years ago for that matter.
America is, for the most part, a rich country. Yet we’re never content with our comforts. We want more. More houses, more cars, more toys, more entertainment, more gee-whiz technology to keep us abreast of all the new stuff to buy.
At Christmas time this national feeding frenzy seems to peak, with shoppers rushing around buying items of dubious worth and wasting hours online looking for “that perfect gift.” Is this what Jesus had in mind, you think?
Pardon my Grinchitude. I used to be as crazed as anyone else by the season of sugarplums and mistletoe. I was born of Christmas Eve. As a child I always thrilled to the way the whole world lit up on my birthday, and people seemed happier, kinder, for at least a few hours.
I think that sort of holiday lift still happens. But it feels like something’s gotten skewed in the last twenty years or so. Maybe it has something to do with the nationwide plague of sarcasm. We started out as a nation of proud and courageous dreamers, explorers, hard workers. We were never perfect. But we hadn’t given up on each other. Lately it feels as if we’re in danger of becoming a nation of whining cynics. I think we can be better than that.
I know I need to work on controlling my own negativity. Things are bad enough on the planet. It will take a lot of cooperation and goodwill among men and women to turn the tide of destruction and despair toward the light.
So this year for Christmas I’m going back to the basics. All I want for Christmas is world peace. No bells, no speeches, no fireworks. Just an end to the bickering. People are starving all over the world. People are homeless. Desperate. Does a bigger flat-screen TV really seem like a step toward making the world a better place?
Well. OK. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, or whatever you want to call the end of year rite. The longest, darkest night of the year is a few days from now. The planet will tilt back toward the light. Maybe our species will take the hint.