Best Of..., Family, Monday Musings, Random DJB Thoughts, The Times We Live In
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Time for a winter break

Phew! That’s the pithy observation the Wordle puzzle uses when I struggle before getting the correct answer with my sixth and final guess. It is as if the phone is telling me, “Barely made it there, pal.”

Too often I catch myself thinking and talking as if barely making it describes life as we reach the end of this January. When that happens, I look to find a different perspective and more hopeful words to describe the times we are in. Yes, there’s a lot going on in the world and we often feel swamped. However, taking the opportunity to step back can not only refresh our mind, soul, and body, but it offers us the chance to see that there is still much that is good in our lives and in the world.

February can easily seem like the longest month, so good news is especially welcomed this time of year. Although we dodged the blizzard that hit the northeast this weekend, the Washington region has had more than our share of snow, ice, freezing temperatures, and brisk winds. More of the same is expected in the coming weeks. We all have to work hard fighting off the winter blues.

Bundled up against the winter cold with my dapper new Maryland flag-themed scarf and hat.*

If flying to Cancún isn’t in your immediate future, perhaps you can join me in choosing to focus on the good news that’s around us.

I’m not being naive. But dwelling on the negative does not do anything constructive to address problems while looking to the positive gives us a way forward, supports others who are also looking to build community, and helps us understand and focus on the things that we can control (which defines effectiveness).

I always try and begin with the good news in my personal life.

When I look for good news, I don’t have to cast my gaze too far. My siblings are all well and my youngest sister just welcomed her first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl, into the family. Our children are enjoying their life and work. Candice and I are looking forward to hearing some great music in the coming months, including Bach’s St. John Passion in Providence and Mendelssohn’s Elijah at the Washington National Cathedral. We also have travel on the horizon with a National Trust tour to Scotland and the fjords of Norway. **

And yes, there are many good things that happened in the U.S. this past year.

We also hear a great deal about what’s wrong in the country, but there is good news if you care to look.

  • The economy had an amazing year, the best since 1984.
  • Sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act marketplaces reached a record 14.5 million, meaning health care is more affordable and more accessible than ever.
  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history — $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites — while also bringing thousands of aging bridges up to par, with the help of $27.5 billion in new federal aid that was released this month.
  • For much of our history a Black woman didn’t even own her body. Now, the country will get its first ever Black female Supreme Court justice this year. After 95% of all previous appointments were white men (107 white men appointed among the first 113 justices), it is way past time to broaden the perspective on the highest court.
  • The rule of law is working to hold all those responsible for the attempted coup and insurrection in 2020/2021 accountable. Justice takes time.
  • As of today, the US has shipped 400 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for free to 112 countries around the world. The best news and biggest story by far for this year is the COVID-19 vaccines, where “ten billion doses were administered across 184 countries, and almost 60% of the planet has received at least one dose (in four months it’ll be 75%)”, making this, by far, the most successful global health initiative ever undertaken.

In terms of the pandemic, the death rate is still too high, but we are seeing that those who are fully vaccinated and follow common-sense public health guidelines are much less likely to get seriously sick, be hospitalized, or die. ***

I understand the challenges ahead. And we are making progress.

Challenges and progress are not mutually exclusive. As Teri Kanefield writes:

Yes, democracy is fragile. That is not new. It’s always been fragile, it’s just that a lot of people didn’t realize it before.

In fact, America really didn’t start becoming a true liberal democracy until after the modern civil rights and women’s rights movement. For most of our history, we were ruled by a small group of white Christian men. That wasn’t democracy. What is happening now (a move toward a true multi-racial democracy) is creating a powerful backlash.

We can all gripe about the media and the authoritarians who have taken over a once great political party. Or we can do positive things. Here’s a great list.


Time for a rest.

Taking a mental health break is #16 on that list. I recently heard a wise person say that if we don’t take a rest from time-to-time, a crisis will find us and force us to rest.

That’s the second part of this post.

I’m taking a break from the blog to focus on completing a manuscript. I’ve been working on this book since last summer, but progress has been slow. Winter seems like a great time to set aside all extraneous writing and get this project completed and to the editor. I’m also going through another digital declutter, to remove the temptation to fall down rabbit holes.

I hope to be back in early April, but I’m not setting any goal other than to complete this draft and get it out the door. In the meantime, feel free to catch up on book reviews from this month or my reading list from 2021. Those looking for music can browse the 2021 top ten music posts as chosen by readers. Take a look through the archives. Or read some people who speak truth to power, people like historian Heather Cox Richardson, columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., attorney Teri Kanefield, journalists Eric Boehlert and Dan Froomkin.

I’ve also decided that while I’m away, I’m going to repost some of my favorite stories from More to Come that focus on good news and community. They won’t require any new writing, but hopefully you’ll find something that you may have missed in its earlier iteration.

Whatever you do, be kind to others, stay sane, and stay safe this winter. I hope to see you back here again soon.

More to come…

DJB

*Yes, I do have earmuffs on underneath the cap. I’m not typically a belt-and-suspenders type of guy, but it was cold the day I took this selfie.

**If I was being too subtle, Andrew is singing the part of The Evangelist in the Bach St. John Passion and is one of the tenor soloists in Elijah.

***Again, I am not naive. There are people — liars and cheaters both inside and outside the country — trying to destroy our democracy. We are still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. People who make a lot of money by our division are working hard to sow despair and make us demoralized. The media chooses to focus on the negative, in part because of social media responses that are driven to extremes by bots, as reported in the CJR and elsewhere. The Washington Post chose to lead its January 27th story on that amazing economic growth with a curious paragraph casting doubt on the accomplishments of the Biden administration. The press is getting its Covid coverage wrong in several important respects. And the coverage about Biden’s upcoming Supreme Court pick has been, in a word, dismal. Nonetheless, life goes on and we are seeing progress amidst the challenges.

REFERENCES: Heather Cox Richardson. Washington PostWhite House Information Sheet on Environmental Justice. CNN. Press Watch. Hunter Walker. Teri Kanefield. The Editorial Board. Bloomberg.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

by

I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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