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Elmlane

Fred's Views


Sometimes You Gotta Smile

I have exactly no idea where this column is going. I am going to try to make it light and humorous, but it won't be easy. But I need a break, and I suspect so do most North Americans. We've all shared in the grief and anger and outrage and just about any other emotion one can imagine from the events of September 11, 2001. But the world moves on, not well, perhaps, but on. As I look outside the window it is a cool, dreary, rainy day. Normally, that wouldn't depress me much. But that's not all.

My son's financial woes just took a decidedly downward turn. That means so have mine. I tried to sell the only stock I own (that's not tied up in an RSP - Retirement Savings Plan) and that actually was worth more than it was when I got it. That was almost three weeks ago, a week before September 11. I'm still waiting for the money. I've got bills that are unpaid because that's what the money was for. My youngest son is convinced the world is coming to an end, literally, and makes no effort to get a job. My dog has had an ear infection and just loves the medication, not. My dog is also, we believe, starting to suffer from arthritis. We're force feeding her some Glucosamine Condroitin. (Hope I spelled that right, I don't have the bottle handy.) And she loves that too. I've got ten dollars in my wallet and five days to go to payday. Have I depressed you yet?

Well, don't get depressed. There's always a chance my youngest son is right and the world will end along with some of our problems. But I'm betting he's wrong. The world has problems, no doubt, and the gap between "haves" and "have nots" is probably still widening. There are a lot of people out there who are worse off than any of us, and some of them hate us for it. But the sun will come up tomorrow. (I probably won't see it, since the forecast is still for rain tomorrow, but it will come up.) And, oh yes, "Tomorrow is another day".

There are a lot of things right in this world. A great percentage of the world's population still believes in a deity, and a great percentage of them believe in the same deity, be it God, Yahweh, Allah, or simply "I am that I am". And when things get rough, there is still one's faith to turn to. Someone said that God never promised us an easy life, but He/She did promise we wouldn't have to face it alone. We were also promised, someone said, that we wouldn't be asked to bear more than we could stand. So, with faith, we will bear and grin it.

We have watched as a nation has pulled together in its time of crisis. It didn't fall apart. True to form, the moneyed people tried to cover their asses when the stock market opened. But the market was already weak. And some of the trading, maybe a lot of it, was being done by people who manage money for others: mutual funds, pension plans, etc. They may have felt they had no choice but to sell certain stocks. I think they were wrong, but that's another story. But otherwise, the nation seems to have been united in a way that hasn't been seen since the Second World War. (I wasn't born until the war was nearly over, so I'm not basing this on personal observation.) Vietnam was a mistake. You don't conquer ideas with force. And, to the extent that terrorism is an idea, it, too, won't be conquered by force. But force will be necessary here (barring a near-miracle), but it must be surgical and precise. It must not be the kind of war that the U.S. waged in Vietnam or the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Ideas are conquered by better ideas. We must show the terrorists, and anyone else who shares their views, that our ideas and ideals are strong and noble. We're not perfect; our governments are not perfect. We don't have all the answers, but we do have the best solution anyone has come up with yet. But I wasn't going to talk about that.

For the first time in world history, the ordinary person can have his voice heard. I post this on my web page and anyone in the world with an Internet connection can read it. Not very many people do, of course, but the potential is there. I can also reach out and talk to any one individual or to a group. The ordinary person has never had this kind of power before. There are parts of the world that don't have the infrastructure required to access the Internet, let alone the hardware. But even this is slowly changing. There are computers capable of accessing the Internet and so much more that are sitting idle in people's attics or basements. They could be used elsewhere, although, admittedly, transportation problems might not make the idea that worthwhile. Computer prices keep falling, so soon, even the poorest village may be able to afford at least one. They may soon start showing up as giveaways in breakfast cereal boxes! (Seriously, I'm waiting for RAM to appear in cereal boxes. It could happen before you know it.)

There are times when I get depressed over the world situation or my own personal problems, but it passes. My dog's ear infection looks like it's clearing up. She seems more lively and less stiff. (For that matter, so do I. I started taking Glucosamine Condroitin about two months ago. I still get some twinges in my knee, but the pain I was experiencing back then has disappeared. Since it appeared to work for me, I thought we'd try it with her.) My eldest son is about six months away from financial recovery, if he - and we - can hang on that long. And it's still dreary and cool, but it's stopped raining for now.

God's in his heaven, and what's right with the world gives us hope and faith and courage to go on and change what's not right. Have a nice day!

Originally published in 2001.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.


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