The blank template for this space is in front of me on a December day with abundant flurries of snow that mostly melt when the flakes touch the street.
This is the week in which my Jewish friends have been celebrating Hanukkah. Next Sunday for Christians is the second Sunday of Advent. Both groups find this a season of gifts and generosity. Both embrace this as a season of lights.
It is the season my friends at Equity Financial Services in Crestwood – along with the local Kiwanis and other groups – collect toys. Several thousand items will be delivered to kids in three St. Louis elementary schools that serve economically challenged communities.
The season of good will and generosity attempts to bridge some of the growing gulfs between “us” and “them.”
Our politics differ. Our economic disparities keep growing. Some of us value shareholder returns more than opportunities for fair wages and business impact on local communities. Some of us just want a wage that can purchase a warm place to live, with food on the table and reasonable opportunities for our kids.
Some of us want more walls. Others of us want more bridges.
Some of us see order and its enforcement as paramount. Some of us see protest as a necessary catalyst when it can help us re-examine the biases built into our accepted norms. Black lives DO matter. And “blue lives” too.
My farmer brother wants less regulation and better prices for his wheat and soybeans. He and his rural brethren are skeptical of climate change and “liberal” courts.
We get along well, in part, because we don’t discuss my support for environmental regulation and my support for an independent judiciary – judges not hand-picked by presidents or sanctioned by certain churches. We don’t much discuss our differing sources of the facts.
But we likely agree about the market effects of tariffs. We agree on the value of independence for farmers whose families have worked the land for generations. And most of all, we respect each other because we are brothers.
And so here we have a bridge between a so-called liberal from the city and a conservative, true-to-the-soil man of the earth.
And there are other bridges to be built between those who are “us” and those who are “them.”
Those kids in city schools aren’t so different from our kids, our grandkids, the kids we once were. Somewhere along the lines of our generations, someone sacrificed or gave us a fortuitous break. Most of us have more benefits than we have earned ourselves.
Our “us” might consider giving “them” a break this holiday season – and extending that break into the new year.
Outside, the day is still gray with scattered flakes. It is a season waiting for lights – our lights.