September 9, 2015 Politics Settle Down Now, Broom It’s interesting the things you remember about relatives, their quirks and snippets of things they said. My Uncle Bud used to address us kids with “Come here and let me check your oil.” Needless to say, I didn’t go within any oil checking range, whatever that meant. My Uncle Wilfred was the quiet type. He commented about interesting stories he saw on the news as well as read about in the newspaper and magazines. But mostly, he just listened. When my parents took their rowdy foursome to visit, he would say,“Settle down now, broom.” He sometimes referred to us broom heads, so I guess that meant to simmer ourselves down and stop the ruckus. Nowadays, when I open the newspaper to the editorials or see political posts on Facebook, I find myself wondering how folks pump themselves up daily with negative adrenaline without their heads or their hearts exploding. Even as I churn out regular op-ed columns, I have to step back and see the beauty in the world, to smell the proverbial roses. I can’t focus on the negative all the time—the senseless shootings, the loss of humanity on the part of religious and non-religious alike, the hatred of people who are different. Our country may have its problems, but all in all, life here is pretty good. We live in a society that allows us the freedom to speak out, even if our words are negative and non-helpful. We can have our guns, even if we break the record for gun-related deaths in the world and are under the thumb of the NRA instead of rationality. Our children might not be praying to Jesus in public schools, but they can spontaneously invoke Him on their own accord and are not subject to group invocations to Buddha, Krishna, Muhammed, or the Virgin Mary. In other words, they have the freedom NOT to be evangelized by other religious doctrines. We are not in an active war in the Middle East. Our soldiers are not being sent on mission after mission for goals unknown. Gay people who marry are not taking away anything from our marriages. Their legal standings are their own and do not affect ours. Not one iota. Crime in our county is not perpetrated by an influx of bad immigrants. Mostly the offenders are drug users and low-lifes who have nothing better to do. Our country’s economic numbers are better than they have been since the early 2000s, and, we still pretty much have an under-regulated Wall Street, so Capitalism is not under threat. Millions of people now have health insurance. Yeah, I know, the rollout stunk, and people have high premiums. But, some insurance is better than none. Ask hospital administrators who no longer have the volume of write-offs for people with no insurance. Ask the people who can now get life saving cancer treatments or diabetes medicines. Certainly there is much to cringe about in the news today—shootings of innocents, wildfires and drought that scorch our West. The key is not allowing the badness in our world to keep us awash with anxiety, so turn off the news! There is beauty all around us, good things happening, and people making a difference. There is a little girl raising enormous sums for ball fields for handicapped children. There are new businesses opening up in our county, new people with great ideas moving in. There are older folks who exercise weekly and compete in senior Olympics rather than remain idle and sedentary. There are talented teenagers who bring people from around the country to our little area for baseball. There are festivals and events galore, usually produced by volunteers, right here in Lawrence County. There is glorious land abounding just waiting for a hike or a picnic or silent meditation. A quiet mind does good things for the heart, just like volunteering and reaching out to others. To paraphrase Chicken Little and Uncle Wilfred, the sky is not falling, so settle down now, broom!