Silent Night

My wife and I were seated in the hotel lounge when four older gentlemen dressed in tuxedos with top hats approached and asked if we wanted to hear a Christmas carol. Naturally we replied yes and the quartet proceeded to sing. We along with others in the lounge area thanked them and applauded. Still early but along with the Christmas lights it set the stage for the season. Christmas for some is just a holiday, for Christians a very special religious holiday. Regardless for most it tends to be a joyous occasion. A short time later the quartet was serenading a father and his four small children in the lobby with Silent Night. The children seemed enthralled and I was somewhat also for it is to me such a great Christmas carol. Perhaps due to my age the Elvis Presley rendition is one of my favorite. Just a brief interlude, a moment of escape prior to returning to the current perhaps less joyous world outside this artificial creation within a hotel building.

The late evening news put reality in my face. The 24 hour broadcast repeats over and over the election vote recount and possible cabinet and other appointments, the tweeting, the ultra right supporters, a possible attorney general who has demonstrated racist attitudes as a senator, a Secretary of Education without regard for public education and the list continues. So what, does it matter to me and if not, then why not?

Can all of us step back and take a long look at ourselves? We need to look at ourselves not as Independents or Democrats or Republicans, maybe not even as Americans, but as people. People who claim a belief in values as Christians, Jews, Muslims or whatever. If that is too difficult in this season of a holy night then look to the values we acquired at home and at work. Those of us who grew up as what I will call middle class, because that’s how most of us classify ourselves, acquired the values of fairness, honesty and a certain competitive spirit. We all learned that we look at a problem or an issue and look for a solution. Part of that solution comes from our gut, something inside us, but part comes from these life lessons and values to which we have been exposed. As long as we balance these competing forces perhaps tempered by our religious beliefs, we reach common sense solutions. Perhaps also education fits into that assessment, maybe more so for the higher educated, maybe not. This internal value system leads us to be a good neighbor, do a good job no matter how menial the task, help people, obey traffic signs at 3:00 AM in the morning, accept other people, give to a church or a charity. This is who we are and how we got here.

This description is essentially also who I am and how I got here. I like so, so many of us did not grow up rich or increase the family fortune to become a billionaire. Nor did we suck up to some rich person to become rich or much better off than our parents. There has been a struggle for many people for quite a few years now with lost jobs and benefits, lack of economic security and so on. Many have jobs that are just that. Go to work, do the job, get a paycheck and go home to what matters, family. Unfortunately many of us reached down to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps only to discover there are no straps and we are told we are lucky to have boots. Pride in our jobs is hard to find even though for our parents and others there was great pride in work, the products they made, American made. Call it globalism, corporate greed, job loss or just dumb luck but much has changed. The change is most difficult and adaptation may not be possible for many without retraining, some help. Various efforts can be made to reverse the job loss and pay decline but the old days are gone. A billionaire claiming to be the blue-collar and working people’s savior is absurd. He didn’t grow up with our value system and it can’t be acquired through osmosis. We can deceive ourselves for a while but not for long. Ours was a response out of anger and frustration, which doesn’t make it right, but all of us have to live with it for now.

Apart from the derogatory campaign rhetoric about various groups, the media and rigged elections, we now begin to see the actual person. The President-Elect and many around him spent their lives having their own way and now complain like children who can’t. My suggestion is that the President-Elect needs to stand up in support of integrity now and always. His cronies confront the media with their childish complaints about not being treated fairly if their actions are questioned. This is coming from those who only know how to follow but not lead. Common sense tells me this group acts like a bunch of spoiled brats, which may be correct. A good old traditional junior high school often prevented this type of attitude because the person acting like that got his a_s kicked by the bicycle rack after school. This qualified as both a humbling and a growth experience. This does not occur in the privileged private schools these rich kids attended.

We, all of us, Independents, Democrats and Republicans are in for a long loud night. Many of us voted for someone who does not have our value system and wouldn’t understand it anyway. This was our mistake which we need to recognize and reconcile. We need to be better informed, make our concerns and objections known to all our elected officials at all levels and then vote then out of office if any act contrary to our beliefs and value system. This is still our country and it is now and always has been the greatest country. One other thing we all need to do, although we may not have bootstraps, we have boots on our feet and can stand on them and stand up to those who go against our value system. This is our mistake and we need to correct it. We can never outspend those people but we can always out vote them. Now is the time to make this right in this season of joy. Let’s have one holy and silent night.

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