December 29, 2012 8:06:46 PM
I suppose we are all anticipating the launch of a new year -- and not a moment too soon. This past year was horrible. Surely this one will be better. It just has to be.
I keep thinking about those old cartoons that show the earth as a sad face, with wounds, bandages, and puffs of smoke erupting from fires and explosions. Humans have done a lot of damage to our only home. From angry little countries with massive instruments of devastation, to Lowndes County politicians bickering over the distribution of tax monies, we are surrounded by hatred and hostility. Acrimony is this era's fashion. Frowns -- everyone is wearing one.
If we can't "all get along" (Rodney King, April 2, 1965-June 17, 2012), then there must be ways to make our enmity easier to digest. Just like there are rules of etiquette for polite behavior, there should also be guidelines to sweeten our bitterness toward our neighbors (animal and human) on this planet. I have a few simple suggestions.
1. Stop the blame. No matter if you are pro gun-control, or feel that we all need an arsenal in our home, give up the excuses about gun deaths. People with guns kill. They are usually insane and enraged. However, the fact remains that without such intense firepower, the outcome of most U.S. tragedies would have been different. Please do not make up excuses for senseless deaths. Just be careful, and keep your mouth shut about extreme views. And I mean both -- extremely right and extremely left.
2. Be tolerant. In the South we are taught a great deal about treating everyone with courtesy. This should be true, not only for those we meet, but also for people very far away. We may not accept the doctrines of others, but we don't have to. Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Judaism, even Wiccan, are all belief systems with some wonderful tenets, and should be treated with respect. As it turns out, most of these religions are growing faster than Christianity. We may soon be outnumbered. Let them remember that we were understanding of them. A day may come when we need their friendship.
3. Be kind. Be generous. You may know Norlene Wolford for her tireless advocacy on behalf of shelter animals. For us animal lovers, that is enough. But right before Christmas she called a manager at Kmart, asking if she could help someone struggling with a layaway of toys. She was directed to an account that was destined to be put back into inventory because of nonpayment. Norlene paid the balance, and had the manager call the mother to say a "Layaway Angel" had paid off her account.
This was a sad Christmas, for America, and for the whole world. We look forward to changes in the new year. But can we really expect anything to be different? Probably not, unless, of course, we make those changes in our attitude and start in a small triangle we call "golden."
Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.