Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is Your Glass Half-Full or Half Empty?

Happy New Year!

As we enter another year, change is all around us.  A new President, a new administration, a Republican-controlled Congress in both Houses, the possibility of a new, more conservative Supreme Court has Americans of all persuasions feeling hopeful or hateful, rejoicing or rejected, delighted or distraught, exhilarated or exhausted. 

Regardless of which of these extremes you identify with, my only suggestion to you is to just try to be positive. I have always been a positive person.  Nothing keeps me down for long.  Sometimes, as my wife occasionally points out, this can cause me to miss the harsh reality, but most of the time it just keeps me focused on the amazing possibilities of life.

On a return flight from Reno to Dallas in mid-December several years ago, I was flying over a section of the desert southwest about 100 miles west of the “four corners” region (where Arizona, new Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet) on a crystal clear evening.  The region is full of mountains, hills and flat topped bluffs with sheer walls descending sharply to meandering rivers, streams and dry creek beds.  Not a sign of humans could be seen.  

The sun was low in the west and highlighted the striations in deep purples, milk chocolate browns, rusty reds, dusky yellows on the hills and cast long, dark shadows to the east.  It was so astoundingly beautiful that I was moved to say a little prayer to thank god for making such a gorgeous place for his children to live.  My “amen” was interrupted by a woman in the row behind me asking her husband, who was sitting at the window, “What’s out there?”  His response was, “Nothing but desolation”.  Desolation?!

What makes one person look at such a panorama and see nothing and another to see a timeless sculpture crafted by the hand of God?  It is more than just the concept, “is-the-glass-half-full-or-half-empty”.  Sometimes that can be influenced by the contents of the glass.  Is it Heineken or hemlock?  No, this was more than that.  This was more profound.

On the moment I made a resolution for the coming year to take the time to see the beauty in all things, to “smell the roses” a little more often, to appreciate and give thanks for all of the many blessings God has given me and my family.  

Despite troubles some see coming in the White House (we won’t go there) and troubles in countries other than our own, Americans are experiencing the most prolonged economic stagnation in our lifetime. Despite low inflation, artificially low interest rates and the prospect of a 20,000 Dow stock market average (half-full glass), unemployment remains stuck and workers are leaving the workforce in droves, health care and education costs are going through the roof and inequality on so many levels is still there and growing (half empty glass).  

On the other hand, thinking positively, huge strides are being made in science, space exploration and in medicine with the prospect for a cure for some of humankind’s most dreaded diseases within our lifetime.  And, most important, we have each other, as well as God’s promise of salvation through the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ.  We have many challenges, as a nation and as human beings, as we plunge into 2017, but, in my opinion, the glass isn’t even half full, it is overflowing.

To paraphrase "the most interesting man in the world" of Dos Equis XX advertising fame, "Stay positive, my friends".