By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO –
The holiday season provides a great time for reflection about the state of many things, our family, community, and nation, a time to gain a perspective on what must seem like a perpetual sea of un-welcomed changes.
Where has our once relatively tranquil and somewhat predictable American way of life gone? How has and how will the war with Iraq and possibly Afghanistan change our lives? Will there be more terrorist attacks in or near our own backyards? In the coming months, will the economy continue to get better or worse?
As we pause to find some measure of comfort in old family traditions, get reacquainted with family and friends, and take time to prepare old homemade meals almost in defiance of the instant carefree and microwave era, we will unlikely be able to escape the anxiety we feel, the loss of a sense of collective safety and control we once took for granted.
Our anxiety is greater because the global civilized world we thought was emerging only a few years ago, making us one large community, now seems rifted with cultural, religious and economic chasms so wide that they appear to be permanent divides. What a difference of historic proportions a year, a month a day can make.
But is it really some truncated period of time, or a few cataclysmic incidents that have brought such anxiety about? The state affairs — both in this country and abroad — did not come about in a in a short period of time or with a few horrific incidents. That infamous day, 9-11, the terrorist alert system, the subsequent wars, the near collapse of our financial industry just got more of our attention.
The forces, evil and otherwise, that brought us to this point in human civilization have been brewing for a long, long time. And unfortunately, many of us still may not have gotten the messages.
Some of us not only still long for the way things used to be, we actually believe that things have not changed. Too many of us expect to go on with our lives, our dreams and our celebrations just as we always have in the sovereign American way, ignoring all the winds of change around us.
Since change is inevitable—good or bad—why not make it work for the best? Could it be that amid all the pain, uncertainty, and compromised sense safety that we all feel, there is greater opportunity to reconnect with some fundamental and inescapable tenets of a healthy society that we may have lost sight of?
What meaningful reflections could inform our discussion around our holiday dinner tables and gatherings? What is our role in fostering positive societal outcomes? Might there be value in having a conversation with our children, our future leaders, which impresses upon them a few valuable lessons:
As much as they have been told or would like to believe, they are not the center of things. No individual, race, or country is the center of the universe. We all occupy space. We all have purpose and roles to play.
The quality of one’s life need not be built on the backs of other human beings. The oppressed eventually rises. History is replete with examples.
One does not have to go about his or her daily affairs with utter, even partial, disregard for their neighbor, colleague, friend, relative or stranger.
Ignorance, perhaps, is bliss, only in love and only for a time. Ignorance generally is the breeding ground for vulnerability, keeping one who remains so at a disadvantage.
Burying one’s head in the sand solves nothing. We learned that from the ostrich.
As we begin our celebration of this holiday season, perhaps it should be more than tradition as usual. This holiday season, let us begin to advance the conversation.
Edited and Reprinted with Permission of USAonRace.com