When everything goes wrong

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.


Freedom to bloom



The Jasmine along the lakefront fence was an unruly mass of twisted vines when we arrived.   When we left just a few short weeks ago,  it was still winter.  All growth had stopped and the dormant vines  clung to each other for protection against the storms.   But with the sunshine and spring rains had come new growth.  Bright yellow blossoms had burst open and their intoxicating fragrance hung in the air.  The tangled vines, energized by new growth,  crowded against each other, seeking freedom.

I spent the first sunny morning carefully untangling and coaxing  vines into place along the fence, smiling to myself as they seemed to literally jump for joy as they sprung free.   But some defied any attempt to free them.  They were so  tightly wrapped around each other that they had become brittle, barren stems, virtually fused together.

Perhaps  we are like that, too.  When we cling too tightly to another person,  an object, or ideology for protection, we lose our taste for freedom and miss the chance to bloom.