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Use past to build bright future

Use past to build bright future
Use past to build bright future
Judy O'Bannon

After  years of putting it off, I am finally sorting and cleaning out the memorabilia stored in my pole barn. The current COVID-19 pandemic, with its call to stay home, has given me the needed time and motivation to address the clutter. The piles of boxes left after my husband’s death have always presented such a daunting task. Behind the files left from his years in government service, I had previously stacked mementos of the lives of families’ members from the past.

I am a self-identified second-hand store addict. With advised social isolation, I have not seen the inside of a junk store for months. It dawned on me that, stashed in my pole barn, I have treasures I placed there years ago, forgotten and rivaling anything I could find in a resale shop today. I changed my attitude from one of facing drudgery to one of the joy in a great adventure. Every day I head out to my pole barn for an hour or so of exploring the past. It is great fun, very informing and the barn is clearing out.

Revisiting the past, with its good and bad times, is a productive experience during the troubling events we are witnessing today. In the boxes of newspaper clippings, I am finding stories of both challenging and rewarding happenings. One box had both recordings of the first man on the moon and accounts of the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy. The newspapers told of economic instabilities, death notices of family and friends and storms that ravaged communities. On the same pages were notices of heart-warming heroics by everyday people, celebrations and the birth of new citizens and new ideas. All these happenings recorded and saved in the same box. And, we as a society are still here. We prevailed. We met the needs, attacked the problems, took available opportunities and ventured forward with confidence. The message was clear: We can do it again.

By now, we all know that there are steps we can take to push back against the current virus: wear masks, stay a distance apart, wash our hands and avoid big crowds. Most of us can’t invent the vaccine to prevent the deadly disease, but we can do our part in weakening its impact.

Likewise, there is a general awareness that our environment is threatened and climate change is a real factor in our daily lives. Our small efforts to recycle and work with nature instead of against it can’t change the rate of the ice-pack melt but all of us together can make a difference.

As to the health of our economy, we realize it is faltering and too many are unemployed, making it totally out of our control. But, each of us can search our brains and resources and help to redesign our ways of working in the “new normal” world.

Although the current political activity is harsh and combative, we can each examine our basic philosophies of life and make purposeful decisions about our responses to the world around us. Are we negative about everything or do we think in a positive way about ourselves and others? How do we respond when Nazi recruiters, like those reported last week, seek to sway thinking in Southern Indiana? Do we grump to our buddies and stay silent to families and friends? Or, do we firmly denounce fascism in any form?

I have found joy recalling the lives and times of my ancestors and co-workers while cleaning my barn. I find confidence in our experiment called a representative democracy. Let’s build on our past for a bright future.

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