An only child and the oldest granddaughter I was overindulged and sheltered by adoring parents and relatives. And when things went wrong for me, I just picked up my toys and went home.
That didn’t work so well as an adult.
And things aren’t going so well these days. Political turmoil, war and poverty, mega fires, devastating floods, social upheaval, financial instability. And I must admit, my first reaction isn’t to charge headlong into the battle, but to hide, the adult version of “picking up my toys and going home.”
I hear a lot these days about people fleeing the country in desperation. I understand and share their frustration. We have a huge drug problem, our infrastructure is failing, our schools are falling behind, the middle class is struggling, our immigration policies don’t work, our racial divide is widening. Not to mention mass shootings and natural disasters. I hear all that.
But I have to wonder how many of those thinking of leaving the country have lived in or visited other countries for extended periods of time. One look at the nightly news shows us that these are not problems specific to us; they exist the world over. No country is exempt from problems and even if there were such a Nirvana, there is no way to hide there. Our community is global.
Besides, we have so much to fight for, so much we take for granted. Our public education, flawed, but still a route out of poverty for (I’m a case in point). Freedom of speech. No one is imprisoned for criticizing the government or attending religious services. Our cities have clean water and our children are vaccinated against deadly diseases. Our breathtakingly beautiful national parks are open to everyone. For starters.
But it’s not free. To quote Edmund Burke,
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. “
And it all counts. Every thing we don’t say, every seed not planted, word not written, neighbors’ pain ignored, adds to the turmoil, desperation and fear around us. It might be uncomfortable, even dangerous to face our problems. But we can’t afford to pick up our toys and go home.