Caution. This is not a happy, warm-fuzzy post.
I remember, as a boy, feeling like my Dad could make anything happen. Like my Mom could solve a problem with a hug and a snack. Like home was a place that was safe, and no matter what happened, I’d be okay. My brother and sister and I, with Mom and Dad, we’d be okay.
Of course, those are the thoughts of a young boy – a kid, with little experience or understanding of the world, living in a home where his folks loved and cared for him, and worked to make his world a good one. As I grew older, teenage years happened and I rebelled, decided life sucked now and then, argued, grew up, went to college, realized – like many folks – that my parents were much smarter than my teenage self had thought, etc… overall, I had a great childhood… and as a Dad now, I work with my wife to make our home a place that my kids feel safe in. A home that, like the one I grew up in, isn’t perfect, but is nurturing. We work together to make their world a good one.
I’m an optimist. Well, I think I am. Maybe I’m an optimistic pragmatist? My friend Suzi once called me the most cynical optimist she’d ever met, and that stuck with me. I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.
I’m rambling. I’m bothered. After a good, productive, nice day I got home tonight and got in bed to read the news on my iPad before falling asleep, and the Lansing State Journal had 5 articles, right in a row:
Toddler shot in chest after collision.
Man sexually assaulted infant, wife took photos.
Michigan mom, son charged in fatal shooting of girl, 12, over cell phone dispute.
Lansing Detective recounts finding boy in sex offender’s home.
Michigan woman charged with torturing boy, 3.
Jesus. Where are we? All of these things happened within an hour’s drive of my home. Where are we? Not geographically. Where are we as a people? As a lifeform?
I spent 2 hours today talking with a great class of college students, actors, all who are about to head out for their careers. We talked about what the theatre does, why we love doing it, how they can approach their careers and the importance of following your heart and doing something you love.
I spent the evening at the theatre, where a bunch of people came to spend an evening together. Actors, audience, crew, staff, they all came because they wanted to be there. I think that’s a good thing. An important thing. A communal thing that brings us together and can help make the world a better place one or two people at a time.
And then I came home and read the news.
And I know those stories are not indicative of everyone on the planet, and I know the world is also full of wonder and beauty and kindness. I know those things… but I see those stories, and it’s hard to keep the good things in focus. It’s easy to wonder what the hell is going on. And to wonder if some of the things I think are important really ARE important.
I don’t have the answers. I walk around my house, and I look at my son and daughter and wife, all sleeping. I think of keeping them safe, and of the news stories I just read. I think of my parents, and how I felt growing up. I think of them now, in their retirement, and I think of my siblings raising their own families. I think I want to hug my kids until they laugh and roll their eyes and say “Daaaaaaaad!” I think of a line that Joe Zettelmaier wrote for The Sheriff in Dead Man’s Shoes: “I do my part to correct the growing wickedness in the world with small acts of goodness.”
I think we all have to keep trying, and trying hard.
I think I’m going to have a hard time sleeping tonight.
And I think I’m gonna call my parents tomorrow, just to chat.