Orr: Finding hope during tumultuous times
November 4, 2016
Yes, this is a tough week
You have to be reminded. I know do. Because, right now, we are all holding our breath.
Deep breath in. Deep exhale out. We have to be reminded to breathe.
In meetings this week, lunches and dinners with friends new and old, we are all saying pretty much the same things. We're exhausted. And we're worried. We're worried about … everything.
Sending a colored emoji heart will never be the same as hugging another human.
It is local and international. It is the economy and the weather patterns. It is epidemic drug use and affordable health care. It is relentless. And this week, it is about not only who will win but what will win.
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It was just five months ago I was sitting on a lawn in Banff, Canada at a global conference with dozens of folks from the European Union who were in shock about the Brexit vote they had not seen coming. We talked in small groups about that vote being a possible harbinger for the political climate in the upcoming elections in the United States. And we talked then about the pillars of our democracy and what that meant to countries the world over. Our peaceful transfer of power, every four years, with no military coups. No riots. No functions stopping. And the remarkable experiment of democracy.
The wild success of the Broadway musical, "Hamilton" – cast colorblind with rap lyrics about the first Secretary of the Treasury and the other founding fathers, never sounded, on paper, like anybody's idea of a sold-out show. And yet, it is on track to be the most successful Broadway musical in the history of Broadway. Yes, the lyrics are riveting and ditto the acting and staging. But like any good piece of theater — it is all about the story.
The story is about is about us, and the U.S., how a country was forged with love triangles and slavery and petty disagreements. And critical disagreements. And hope. A whole bunch of hope. And dreams they could create something better than a king ruling a country. Democracy, as old as the Greeks, became new in the world when a fledging country decided to "give it a go." Somehow we have managed to improve on the process and form for centuries.
But right now the outcome is uncertain. No matter which party you support we all fear the wrong outcome could alter our democracy as we know it. And the world is watching to see if the "beacon on the hill" is still shining after Tuesday. Can we, will we, survive this election? And yes, it feels that dire.
On the home front, right here in our school district, we are saddened to have the deaths of two young teenage boys — 13 years old and best friends — confirmed to have been drug overdoses from the synthetic opiate known as "Pink." For weeks now, groups (large and small) have been meeting to discuss ways we can put a spotlight on the epidemic of drug use in our community. And the pressures on teens — from grades to athletics to having sex — to choosing a sex. The world our teenagers live in is fluid and dynamic and full of possibilities. So many possibilities it can be paralyzing. And easy to make poor choices.
We want to think our community is supportive and caring and open and loving and yet we easily ignore the fact almost 30 percent of our residents live in poverty. The food bank at the Christian Center and the pantry of essential supplies at the high school is constantly churning through donated items. Kids show up to school not only hungry but without toothpaste or deodorant. It is difficult to be present to learn when you are hungry and without your basic hygiene needs covered. And you can see, if you are observant, the places in town kids gather, where there is free internet, so they can do their homework. We are not equal in opportunities, even here, in this beautiful four-season resort town.
Our devices keep us ever connected to some things but distant from one another. Our heads are down, reading, scrolling, clicking, constantly communicating- non-verbally. Sending a colored emoji heart will never be the same as hugging another human.
We have the weekend and a few days to get past this election and hope we can celebrate a continuation of being a beacon on the hill for the rest of the world. We want civility to win.
The win for our children isn't so quick. It will take changed behaviors, first by adults, to teach our children well. And they are all our children in this village.
As the holidays approach, some of hear the chords of familiar carols and other hear haunting sounds of despair. There is a loneliness that creeps in, unique to winter solstice and we need to help the fragile among us-from teenagers to the elderly-in ways to be resilient in the sound of such bell-ringing sadness.
I wanted to write a column about hope and it is in here … somewhere. After this week of conversations with so many expressing such hopelessness there is a need to remember even in tough times, especially in tough times, we are a part of community of people who are resilient and caring and generous and ultimately hopeful. Right now, we just need to remember to be kind to one another … and breathe. Deeply. Maybe consciously, all day, this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.