An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

 

By John Pierce

A few recurring themes seem to surface when reading published opinion pieces or casual individual online postings.

In fact, much of what is heard these days fits into three categories. In a sense, these are obvious observations.

One: Life moves quickly especially in the second half. For many of us, 1990 seems like yesterday and the ‘80s aren’t the ancient history our children tend to believe. We wonder how we got to this time in life so soon.

Two: We live in a society that is deeply polarized by differing political and religious perspectives. Even a televised dance contest can become a political tug-of-war.

Being convinced that one’s doctrinal beliefs and/or political philosophies are superior to all others can quickly lead to the feeling of personal superiority and the belittlement of those who might look at these matter differently. The delineation between  “us” and “them” keeps widening.

Three: Despite our tendencies toward division, there is strong value in finding mutual support and encouragement when going through life’s rites of passage.

Community support, in various forms — extended families, congregations, neighborhoods, online forums, etc. — buoys us through personal challenges and shares in our times of joy.

These obvious observations, however, raise the important question: “What can I do about it?” There are limitations for sure, but we can find positive ways of responding to that question.

One: We can’t slow down our clocks and calendars. However, we can become more conscious of the opportunities each day provides. Despite the difficulties, life is a gift to be embraced and milked for all the joy and fulfillment it can offer.

Two: It is deliciously tempting to join in the polarization process. But we must use restraint. There is a clear difference between holding firm to our beliefs and dismissing those who believe differently.

Arrogance built on a false sense of certainty is poisonous. We must make conscious decisions to distinguish between the ideas we reject and the rejection of those who hold these ideas.

Three: In the same way we breathe in and out, we can be givers and takers within our places of community. There are times when we need the encouragement, support and care of others. There are times when others need those acts of kindness from us.

Beyond the confusion and complexities we sometimes encounter, life often gets boiled down to a few obvious observations that deserve our best attention and efforts.

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