Not “Switzerland”

In a war everybody always knows all about Switzerland, in peace times it is just Switzerland but in war time it is the only country that everybody has confidence in, everybody.

Gertrude Stein; https://www.brainyquote.com

When my sons and I now debate the polarizing topics of the day, we still can see the others’ point of view though we disagree on positions, evidence, and interpretation of those differing opinions. My spouse, who deals with conflict in her job has on numerous occasions stated to us and to others that she is “Switzerland” when we all try to bring her to our side.

But there are times when the family rallies around one another. Nobody takes a position of non-intervention or turns a blind eye to family crises. Politics, gender, religion, age, birth-order, and sports are not discussed when a family member is hospitalized. Berating individuals about life choices and mental fitness are banned, delayed or withheld, in order to support the suffering member.

Perhaps we are fortunate. Or that we have a unique perspective. But I do not think so. Our family has six adults, one by marriage, and a grandchild. Our “empty nest” has been re-nested with the same suffering family member recently. Our family has been touched by illness, substance abuse, divorce, step-parenting, military service, job loss, overwork, financial issues, car accidents, and even a fire in our home. Everything from hospitalized parent (the author’s and his wife’s), online stalking, high school shootings, and even a student suicide have touched the life experience of members of this family.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the end what holds us together as family is more permanent than what makes us individual. In the world, the concept of “family” means different things to different people. But in ours, there is no room for anyone to sit on the sidelines.

Sandcastles

a tale of three citizens

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” Abraham Lincoln

https://www.goodreads.com

Allen

As you sip a latte at Starbucks, feeling outraged by a President who apparently does not share your social conscience, you wonder how the country has become so brazenly racist and homophobic. While you have not seen any negative impact to your paycheck nor fewer clients to your business, the economy is horribly worse because others are earning significantly more. You did not vote in the Presidential election, though you like what you hear about the new Congress: a Muslim woman and a Green social media-savvy gadfly. When not supporting gender-equality pastry shops, you purchase organic, locally-grown produce at Trader Joe’s. You buy Emerging Markets coffee beans online from a group that supports Guatemalan children. And you truly believe your Tesla, Prius, or Audi lessens your carbon footprint.

Yrena

As an immigrant who saved up the required fees, filed for the visas and immigration forms, and emigrated to her new country according to the laws and practices of each nation, you are diligently working to learn the language, customs and history of your new home. You know your ethnic community in the area you have settled have members – family and extended family perhaps- who live in violation of the law. Some overstayed their student visas, and other came across hiding in a van or in leaky boats that beached one moonless night. You are working two jobs to pay for your daughter to attend community college. She will become the first college-educated member of your family. Your son is learning to be a mechanic after school. When the television, newspapers and the Internet declare that you support wholeheartedly the new ‘migrants’ and see them being pandered to by politicians and journalists, you are conflicted, upset, or angry. And your family are not “hyphen” Americans. You are American.

Cole

As an Iraq War veteran, you do not understand people who hate you sharing your opinions, and do not financially support veteran suicide-prevention projects but pay to hear activists demean America at college campuses. You are irritated by people who do not remember what happened on 9/11 or tell you how the current Administration is working with the Russians. Like your father before you, you are teaching your son or daughter firearm safety and how to hunt for deer, elk, or boar. You may not be religious, yet you assert your rights as parents to approve what they are taught as curriculum. You know when you are being played by b.s. artists in government, the media and education – that was one of the skills learned from military service and especially from time in a war zone. You don’t trust politicians or bureaucrats. Not from any party.

Politics and personal loyalties based on ideology fluctuate over time. Human nature is flawed and subject to the same weaknesses. Politicians acquire power from citizens, and get more corrupt as the citizens get more aloof. Without unity, a house divided cannot stand. And observing all the past civilizations collapsed in the dust of history, the lack of unity of a people accelerate the incoming tide.