Nothing happens in isolation
My ankles are cold as I sit at my computer today. But, if I look out the window and dream, I feel as though I can see the beginnings of spring lying just below the surface of the earth.
I got the first glimmer of what was to come when the Canada geese showed up at our farm pond a week ago and stayed. The mama goose will begin to sit on the little island in the middle of the water and incubate her eggs soon. I acknowledge that this is still February and we have some harsh weather waiting to move into our area. The mama goose will hunker down in her nest and ride out winds and sleet that blow horizontally against her.
March Madness, with its mix of wild basketball tournaments and sudden snowstorms, is still to come. I am sure we will not look back at the winter of 2015 and think that all the white stuff fell on the East Coast.
But we need a sunny bit of hope in our world today and let’s grab it when it shows up. Valentine’s Day is fun, and I hope you had an exchange of hearts and flowers with someone, be it grandkids, friends or spouses. Red hearts and happiness are good symbols amidst a world of conflict and uncertainty. We care for others all-year long but get so tied up with chores and the realities of life that we often forget to stop and say happy things to each other.
Bravo for holidays of congratulations and appreciation even if they sometimes seem to be the inventions of greeting-card companies and gift suppliers. We often need a little nudge to get out of the muddle of schedules, duties, responsibilities and chores so that we can see the overall glory of living.
I know a greeting card and the first crocus of the spring can’t erase the severity of poverty, diseases or military conflict. These are the harsh realities of human existence that feed on each other and make a continuous chain of events throughout history. While the warming soil and rain of early spring prepare the ground for new plant growth to take place, wars and treaties of the past have often created conditions that have resulted in future aggression and discord.
In trying to discuss and somewhat explain to my granddaughter the current tensions in the Middle East and those between Russian and the West today, I realized I had to go back centuries to lay a foundation for conversation. The conditions that have bred conflict arose out of economics, geography, ethnic practices, religions and past historical events. When we add some of the darker sides of human nature to this mix, we have the complex and tangled web that ensnares us in 2015. One summit of leaders, many military conflicts with heavy armory, a ceasefire here and there and a few alliances and treaties thrown in are not going to drastically change the turmoil in our world.
I don’t begin to know what will improve the course of history, but I do know that we are planting the seeds for what happens when our great-great-great-grandkids take over the helm. There are warm and productive ingredients we can stir into their lives now that will help to nurture the characteristics and skills that we believe are good.
There is an old saying that ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.’ Is that hand confident, kind, fair, generous and hopeful? Those are nutrients that develop capable people.
It is an overall spirit of mind and soul that we dream of for future families, communities and nations. Many a positive leader may enter the picture at a time of great opportunity or crisis, but their voices will fall on deaf ears if the habits or mindset of a nation is negative and defensive.
Hitler did not make the economic hard times of pre-Nazi Germany. He saw the bad conditions and fed the people a doctrine of hate and ethnic superiority, and they were just waiting to hear it. His kind of leadership would not have had a chance in a nation of upbeat, confident-thinking and acting people.
I am a firm believer that faith can guide and sustain us in good and bad times. I also realize that we all express our concepts of supreme beings and their relationship to us in different ways. It is a diversity that is inherent in the nature of man. We must factor in to all disagreements the need to use the life-sustaining elements of a faith rather than the divisive tendencies. One’s faith should be basically a positive, affirming and loving element, but too often we use it to separate, divide and harm each other. However, former Congressman Lee Hamilton commented recently that, during many of the high-level talks he participated in that attempted to end conflict, the issue of differing religious factions never entered the discussion. I think this is a grievous omission.
Nothing happens in isolation. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all related. That is a happy and also a scary dynamic that causes us to prepare and to appreciate.