This is the time of year when those of us who have had our fill of "things" hunger for something more nourishing. Therefore I offer my annual "Early December wisdom for harried Christmas creators and depressed recessioneers," mined from a variety of sources:
People have been condemning incivility for years now. The nation's current "culture war" goes back at least 20 years. At the Republican Convention in 1992, Pat Buchanan famously said, "There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself."
Here we are on the brink of another Thanksgiving, entering the fourth or fifth year of economic downturn (depending on where you mark the beginning), with little hope of an upswing. The system is broken and we're not making much visible progress on fixing it.
Eric Gyllenhaal and his sons, Aaron and Ethan, who live on the 1000 block of South Elmwood in Oak Park, are avid birders. Gail Fisher, Eric's wife and the boys' mom, not so much, though she admires their, well, obsession. But that obsession seems to have been rewarded with a first state of Illinois sighting of the rare Broad-tailed Hummingbird in their backyard on Monday.
Our religion writer, Tom Holmes, a retired Lutheran minister, wrote last week that he doesn't attend the annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service because he can't pray with people of other faiths. His blog (see OakPark.com) surprised more than a few of us because no one is more open-minded and eager to explore other faiths and faith communities.
Normally, I don't respond to online comments about my columns. I figure people have a right to react. I don't need to have the last word. But I can't resist replying to "Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park," who posted the following comment about my recent column, Long live the (new) American Dream [Oct. 26]:
"I thank my lucky stars that I landed here," says Stephanie Clemens, who turned 70 this year and is marking 40 years since she first "rolled up the rug in my apartment" and started teaching dance in Oak Park. So maybe she's in a retrospective mood. Maybe that's why her Momenta dance troupe's fall program, which runs the next two weekends, includes so many historical works.
With "potluck" you don't know what you're going to get. Life isn't a box of chocolates, it's potluck. Which is fine because you're bound to find something you like — especially with more than 200 dishes to choose from. That was the situation a week ago Sunday at the Andersen Rec Center, a lovely stretch of green space nestled among single family homes on Hayes Avenue just north of Division.
Is the American Dream merely deferred or has it died? Deferred is tragic. Death might be catastrophic. The American Dream is the social covenant that says if we follow the rules, work hard, live as law-abiding citizens — in other words become team players — then it will pay off somewhere down the line. We'll move up economically and our kids will be better off than we were.
In any democracy, inequality is a sin. The greater the inequality, the greater the sin. And the greater the sin, the greater the unrest. Environmentalist Paul Hawken called it "Blessed Unrest," which is the title of his 2007 book.