We hold the key to world changes

By: 
DICK CROCKFORD

I took a couple of days off last week to stretch the weekend out in order to enjoy a get-together up at a favorite family gathering place, the old cabin at Pinnacle, not far from Glacier National Park.
Some may recall that I did something similar last year, but that the event was spoiled a bit by the oppressively hot weather and squadrons of nasty, biting flies that showed up wearing bibs and armed with knives and forks. This year, cooler temps, passing rain showers and the total absence of aggressive insects made the gathering much more enjoyable.
It was our return to Dillon that jolted us from relaxation to grim reality Sunday evening.
You see, while we were away, we had no cell phone service, did not read any newspapers and did not listen to any broadcast news to speak of. We had not heard the horrific news coming out of Texas in regard to the killings of five police officers and the wounding of a number of others at the hand of an apparent lone gunman.
For my wife and I, the first indications that something had come up was during the Roman Catholic Mass celebrated on Saturday evening at the community center at the park headquarters complex at near West Glacier. The celebrant, Father John Miller, an old friend, included – without comment or specifics – a prayer for those who (we learned later) had been killed and wounded in the line of duty.
Afterward, still puzzled, my wife said simply, “I wonder what happened,” but we did not discuss the matter and forgot about it the rest of the weekend, until our drive home Sunday afternoon, when details began to emerge as we listened to public radio as we traveled. Indeed, it wasn’t until we got home and started to catch up on the news that we learned of the awful tragedy in Texas.
The reason I bring all this up is that this most recent calamity serves to drive home for me – and perhaps, for you – the shrinking of our personal “security blankets” as the 24/7 news cycle picks up speed and covers more territory more quickly than ever before. Indeed, there were four killed and dozens injured in shootings in Chicago over the weekend, not to mention other places.
In recent weeks, we have been “electro-witnesses” to floods and tornadoes and other terrible things across the United States and around the world. As social beings we seem to be veritable sponges for the awful, frozen in place as our television sets and electronic devices bring us more and more … we can’t seem to get enough.
Catastrophes and natural disasters have been part of life since the beginning of recorded time – and before, I’m sure – but the speed with which modern mass communication delivers the bad news has ramped up the cycle so that the negative dumps on us in a deluge that leaves us saddened and stunned, not only as individuals, but also as entire societies.
We become quite overwhelmed and lash out at the messengers, lamenting that the media only gives us the bad, reporting events, speeches and developments that make us quite uncomfortable. We forget that each of us has the power to change —not the world or society in one fell swoop, but our own selves and how we manage our personal lives and how we interact with others.
It is hard – no, difficult beyond description – to resist the temptation to strike out and blame others for the state of our own lives and the state of the world in general, but until each of us is willing to look in the mirror and consider how we have contributed to the situation – either by our actions and words, or the lack of the same – we should not expect the world to change.
Deep down, there is a nugget of something – whether we call it soul or human nature – that reminds us that we are responsible for the things we say and do (or do not), and that until we are individually willing to accept responsibility for our actions, things in general in our world will not change. And yes, that goes for me, too.
True, we can all go away for an extended weekend in the mountains, but when we return, the reality of it all is still with us. Aside from the natural disasters that are just part of our world, the killings and bloodshed will continue until the point is reached when each of us acknowledges that we truly do own individual responsibility for the way of the world today.
More positively, though, we have the innate power to shed the victim mentality and work for the betterment of all with every decision we make, no matter how large or seemingly insignificant.
My advice? Do something nice for someone else. The returns will be immeasurable.

Dick Crockford is the publisher of the Dillon Tribune.

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