Don’t be discouraged by the state of our country

Colin Roberts, Columnist

May we live in interesting time, eh?

Things are ratcheting up. Pipe bombs in the mail is kind of new. Synagogue shootings are sadly, not. The 24-hour news cycles can’t focus too heavily on any one topic, less they be labeled partisan, or worse, boring. The truth is not partisan, or at least it didn’t use to be.   

But recent political violence is in keeping with the political divide that continues to grow in our country. And fits into the greater problem of outside interference. But there is also plenty of domestic blame to go around. 

But “Who’s to blame” isn’t the title of the column, is it? I wanted to write this piece to frankly analyze where we’re at, but things change so quickly, and new information arrives so frequently, that it’s self-defeating. So instead I want to talk about keeping up courage in the face of daunting tasks. 

We have a lot to rebuild. A lot of that will depend on November. But when the news cycles are full of imagery of shootings, mugshots of grizzled angry white men, and (note to editors: please insert today’s tragedy in lieu of these brackets), it’s easy to get discouraged.

There’s healthcare of course. Republicans are still trying to strip coverage for pre-existing conditions, and the administration’s recent tax cut is filling the pockets of insurance companies and major corporations nicely. They don’t seem to be reinvesting it into the economy though, so it’s a bust for us laypeople.   

And the whole human rights thing. We gotta get rid of the child-separation policy, get some accountability into ICE, bring back protections for at-risks groups in the workplace and make sure someone doesn’t outlaw the 14th amendment.

Oh, and student debt. Apparently consumer protections are being removed. I don’t know if that means armed-debt collectors or what, but every day we get closer and closer to a Libertarian fantasy hellscape, so who knows. 

I could go on. But again, that’s not the point of the column. In the face of all this blatant disregard for human rights and the plundering of our nation’s assets, what can we do when we finally have the power to right things? 

Again, November will be important. But there’s something to be said about keeping a positive attitude in the face of an attack. I know, easier said than done. And certainly a positive attitude is the privilege of someone who is not in a detainment camp, or isn’t about to have their basic human rights stripped away. But for those who have the ability to fight from solid ground, a strong spirit and supportive arm will help those who are being targeted. 

This is a lot of feel-good rhetoric. The nuts and bolts of what I’m talking about is standing with your Jewish friends and continuing to hold our country to high standards. Mourning with them, but not accepting defeat. Or taking the time to connect with your neighbors who might be the target of ICE’s next raid, whether justified or not.

Basically, the worse things get, the more important it is to retain our humanity. Now, that doesn’t mean to stop punching Nazis. Anyone who’s trying to exterminate someone else should be stopped. But remembering that nothing is permanent will help you continue to stand up for what is right, during times of peace and strife. 

A good sense of history will also help. One story ends and another begins. Mind you, those are real people in those stories, and nobody exactly likes living through the bad stuff, but the bad times only stay for as long as people tolerate them. 

And certainly, it starts small. Do not discount the power of maintaining friendships and reaching out in times of trouble. Little ripples turn into big waves, and we are nothing if not social creatures. Don’t isolate yourself. Know that you are not alone in wanting to fix things.

I guess I never really told you how to keep a positive attitude though, did I? I took a social media break and relied on faith. But you’re not me, and what works for me might be nonsense for you. But as I mentioned above, friendship and staying connected helps. And keeping things in perspective will do a load of good.

But most importantly, be the change you want to see in November. The system really does work.              

Colin Roberts can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].