We’ve a Good Thing Going In Montana
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
The thing about the 24-hour news cycle is that, well, it lasts 24 hours. Short of 9-11 and Watergate, important news quickly gets displaced by the next event, and the cumulative effect resembles a collective Attention Deficit Disorder.
A monthly, though, sets a whole other pace. Within these pages more enduring issues prevail. Call it a 30-day news cycle, but, well, you know what’s been going on in the world the last 30 days. Even if you’re reading these words in late December, or 2016, even if cable tv goes predictably ADD on us, the events are hard to forget, because in November it got pretty bad out there.
In Montana, we’re doing okay, like an island of sanity in a world that seems to be collapsing in on itself, at least if you’re immersed in 24 news. —Best to resist it, that projection of events as if they were the only thing happening, when they’re not. And we ought to be thankful we’re among the best equipped to do so, like people in Iceland, the Azores or New Zealand, other islands (beyond the news) in the prevailing stream of peace and security. What happened in Paris, and Mali (in Beirut, Turkey, Tel Aviv) is not going to happen here, nor will the response that is blowing up Syria and Iraq, as French, Russian and American forces wage war against insanity.
We’ve a good thing going in Montana. We’re removed from so much, as our country often is in general. We get long cold winters and smoky summers, but nobody’s beating your door down to steal the kids, and we don’t see a lot of bombing, terrorism, or killing—for that you have to go to Chicago.
At this time of year, as the stars themselves freeze in the clear night sky, you can look up and wonder from our vantage point just what the hell is wrong with the rest of the world. But keep in mind, yes, there are very bad things happening out there, but at the same time that’s all you hear about on the 24-hour rant, day after day, until you’re conditioned to see the world that way.
We need not. We live in our minds and hearts, not in the world, not in an electronic device that telegraphs continuous digital images. In times gone by, when nobody knew what was happening a hundred miles away, let alone ten thousand, they did just fine. They had no inherent need or ability to dwell on the Russo-Japanese War, the Mexican Revolution, or the Boxer Rebellion when they lived in Miles City, Montana. News came slowly, and they had their personal lives, and they looked up into the same night sky as we do, its slow imperceptible rotation propelled by some magnificent force far greater than all of us combined. Peace can be individual, and subjective, and probably has to be, to be real.
It can also be collective.
It’s worthwhile then taking time to celebrate this time of peace, as the faithful and unfaithful have done for two thousand years (a few hundred years shy of that, actually, historically speaking, but you understand). Enclaves of warmth and good cheer, family and friends, displace acrimony. Raised glasses convey warm feelings of goodwill, or at least they used to. And it used to be when someone broke faith, made a scene, got ugly, and spoiled the moment, cooler heads prevailed in a way that everybody appreciated. In a reverent tone, they’d say: C’mon—it’s Christmas. And everybody got it.
Strange that many people don’t anymore (cynics, malcontents, PC fundamentalists). You have to wonder what kind of personality types have a problem with goodwill, peace on earth, and the oneness of the human family. It’s really quite odd. What kind of people are they who can even screw up Christmas? Let’s not give them much in the way of credibility, or next they’ll screw up Thanksgiving, birthdays, and anniversaries.
But if ever there were a time when that spirit were needed, a spirit that has brought truces to battlefields, surcease to personal conflicts, and the feeling that we’re all in this together—it’s about now.
Think of the Joyeux Noels that have rung through the streets of Paris for centuries. Then think of this year—loved ones slain, others critically wounded, crushed families, empty places set at holiday tables. And for what?
See what the news does.
Peace on earth.