I had coffee with a dear old friend last week who came to town from his home near St. Louis to be with relatives for Thanksgiving. I always enjoy our visits, although I’m sorry to report we have yet to solve any of the world’s many complex problems. If only the world would listen to us.
During our lengthy chat, out of the blue, my friend had a confession for me. “I’ll have to say I quit reading your column last week,” he told me with this explanation: “It was just too long for me to continue wading through it.”
I agreed the column was a lengthy one. It mostly contained more responses from readers to an earlier column of mine when I commented on the dumbing down of America. So, today I offer a gift to my friend and to other readers who may have grown impatient trying to reach the end of last week’s missive. It’s a much shorter column, one I wrote during the 2018 holiday season. Enjoy, my friends.
It’s Christmas time.
As the Great Day approaches and, as it has through the ages, mankind mellows. But, again, as it has through the ages, the mellowness is short-lived. Come the new year, the divisiveness, the anger, the jealousy, the lack of civility, all manner of ugliness will once again assault any feelings of warmth, peace and love that engulfs us during the Christmas season.
I’m not simply referring to global strife. Or to the anger, bitterness and, yes hate, in our national politics. Or to the Chicago vs. Downstate battles and bickering in this State of Illinois. That same emotional turmoil is alive and all too often thriving in our neighborhoods and communities.
I’m not a huge social media participant by any stretch of the imagination. Facebook seems to be my only digital sin. I originally jumped into the Facebook game as a way to market a couple of books I’d written, but I also quickly discovered, as a friend of mine had told me, it’s a wonderful way to get back in touch with friends and folks I haven’t seen in many years or those who live far away.
But Facebook, and I’m sure other similar social media outlets, has become an easily traveled route to spout hate, to put people down and to build with a vengeance the super-human strength it takes to drive massive wedges to widen the gaps that are tearing this country apart. The hatefulness could easily be dismissed if it were being spewed by total strangers. But, more and more, it’s coming from family, friends and casual acquaintances.
To all of you, I’d like to scream loud enough to go off the decibel chart: STOP!!!
I haven’t seen many rants that came from someone who has stepped up to be part of any real solution. That would require becoming part of the system, like running for school board, city council, county board, or even as a precinct committee representative.
Here, then, is my Christmas wish to the folks I’ve included in my social media circle: Think long and hard about what you are saying and think about the people who are reading your messages and perhaps ponder how they are reacting to your words and thoughts. Perhaps, try this old adage on for size: If you have nothing good to say, keep quiet.
This world we live in certainly doesn’t need more problems. It needs solutions, some common-sense solutions forged by level-headed folks whose goals are far removed from hurting mankind with all manner of greed, personal gain and downright ugliness.
To all of you, Facebook users all the way down to the good folks who don’t even have a computer or cell phone, today I offer a Christmas gift, especially to those who regularly read my column and often wonder if I know what “word economy” is all about: Today, I offer a much shorter column.
Basically, I offer these wishes to all of you: A blessed Christmas. A civil new year. Wishes for a world where peace, love, respect for all reign. A sincere hope where the goodness and serenity of this season lasts for all time.
Last week in this space, I told readers I would shift gears and not revisit that “dumbing-down” column, which morphed into a life of its own, thanks to it being posted on the Yahoo News website. That generated a ton of emails from throughout the country, which, in turn, led me to devote three weeks of columns to the subject.
I’m not saying I lied with that pledge; perhaps I misspoke. I simply had to include two of the many more related emails that have landed in my Inbox.
The first is from Shelby Marrs Lewicki from Manteno, Ill.: “At 84 years young, I have to say ‘OMG,’ I'm not alone in this train of thought and observations regarding the state of America! ‘Who'd a thunk it’ as that old saw goes.
“Thank you for the terrific read and especially to those brave and like-minded souls who replied in kind to your unabashed observations! And to think we share 98 percent of our DNA with chimpanzees.”
Finally, I include this one, from a woman who lives in Emden, who indicated she really didn’t want her name in print. I’m including her comments for two reasons – one, it’s one of the very few emails I received from local readers, and secondly, yes, ma’am, flattery will get you everywhere: “I think it's great that a kid from Armington has become an international journalist! I always enjoy your columns, but today's was really special.”
Dan Tackett is a retired managing editor of The Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Lincoln Courier: Christmas wish is to stop the hate