Bits Of Happiness In A Grim Summer

Far Removed From A Country And A World On The Brink

Pick up a national newspaper; switch the television to a news channel or log onto an international news organization and it may appear the world is about to implode.

Thirty-eight people and one dog died when the Taliban shot down a helicopter. London was virtually on fire for most of the past week. A drought in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti has already killed thousands and left millions more displaced and at risk for starvation. After weeks of debate the U.S. passed a debt ceiling bill only to have Standard & Poor’s lower the credit rating, sending stocks spiraling. News that France may be next only made matters worse.

August has always been a month that tests us. In mind’s eye, it’s an idyllic, lazy month of humid days, last minute summer outings and backyard cookouts. In reality, August was the month World War I began in Europe, the month the Berlin Wall was built, the month Mount Vesuvius erupted.

It’s no wonder that people are searching for bits of happiness in the midst of a grim summer. At least that’s the idea behind a photo gallery and story on The Washington Post that asks people to post photos of their tiny joys.

It’s a worthwhile idea, but still can’t I help but wonder if stories like those are a disservice. If they remove us too much from the events that are happening, somehow lessening our own responsibility and complicity.

As a whole the American public had largely forgotten about the war in Afghanistan and while the outpouring of support for the families of those lost is endearing they should have had always had our support and our attention.

In the weeks and months to come the London riots will be studied from many angles focusing on the reasons behind them, how they were handled and the impact of social media. Those are worthy interpretations, but not necessarily what the shop owners who had stores destroyed or the youth that took part need.

Africa is in desperate need of help and attention and no amount of stories on life’s tiny joys will fix that.

The politicians on television would have us believe the downgrade isn’t their fault. They may be right. That responsibility lies with them, but also with media that enjoys making headlines of the political fighting instead of focusing on how it affects real people. And it also lies with the American public that voted the politicians into office and is just as unwilling to sacrifice and compromise as those politicians. 

Despite all that there are things we should celebrate. There’s the beginning of the Mystic Outdoor Festival taking place with the support of business sponsorships and volunteers. The osprey, Nature Center Director Maggie Jones found hanging from a line with nerve damage that is now making a remarkable recovery. (There’ll be video next week.) The probate election campaigns, which have arguably been the most civil campaigns ever run. And a community that continues to comes together whether it’s to support a family in need, to come out to a local event, or to shop in a local business.

Let’s just not become too far removed we think the bigger issues don’t apply to us.

Juli Mancini August 14, 2011 at 11:42 AM
Well said Bree! Great article.
Bree Shirvell August 15, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Thanks Juli


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