"So it is." [said Christopher Robin]
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately." --The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
Is being grim now the new norm?
Grim: as in hard and gritty, scary and threatening, despairing and downhearted. Grim: defined as “forbidding and uninviting, lacking humor, and depressing”. It is a mighty, mighty grim world these days. Right? At least that’s what I’m being told. Being sold on too.
How about you? Feeling grim lately?
I mean aren’t we supposed to feel thus? Did you hear about the latest terrible development? Or about our perpetually gridlocked government? Have you seen the scowling countenance of our grim reaper in chief, forever staring back at us, like some ominous day-glow orange visage of doom? I have to ask. Does that guy ever smile? When he is golfing? Maybe he’s just eating too much roughage. (That’s a corny joke—don’t be so grim!)
Wow. Things must be very, very bad. Badder. Baddest.
The proof? Well I did see all this bad stuff on Fox News and MSNBC. I scrolled through my Facebook feed and fed on so much fear. I traveled through Twitter and tripped over terror galore. If the state of our world as portrayed by the media were a weather pattern, it would be cold, rainy and cloudy, 24/7. (OK: that’s just the month of March in New England.) If the state of our nation were as bad as the dour and defeated Democrats would have us believe, as the righteous and rabid Republicans repeat ad nauseum, why even get out of bed? And if you do arise, you’ll either be overrun by illegal immigrants spilling over the border en masse or locked up by a new Supreme Court Justice who makes Snidely Whiplash look like Oprah.
When did America and Americans become so darn grim? Humorless? Puritan?
No, I’m not denying that we have some major challenges facing us at home and abroad, in the neighborhood and the nation. Climate change. Health care. The Wall. Big, big stuff. But when haven’t we faced difficulties? Does anyone else remember World War I, World War II, the Depression, the 1960’s, the slowdown seventies, the gas crisis, disco and bell bottom jeans? We’ve been through and weathered grim and hard times before and our parents and grandparents survived. I’m still standing. You too.
But still, to be grim is so red hot right now: the more dour your outlook, the more popular you become. I’m trying to figure just what’s led to this outbreak of angst, this flood of phobia, this culture of perpetual lamentation. I suppose if one is always grim, you imagine people take you much, much more seriously. LOOK AT ME. I’M FROWNING NOW AND THAT MEANS I AM NOT JOKING. Is this the super secret strategy of the sad sack politicians whom we actually voted into office? Have you read any of the apocalyptic press releases from the Massachusetts Congressional delegation lately?
I get the grimness of the reported news. Good news does not sell papers or drive internet surfers to visit your website. Never has, never will. It’s no wonder so many folks turn to the obituaries when they first open up the newspaper. (Better him than me!) I also suspect that one simple way of having power over people is to just regularly scare the bejesus out of folks. First: paint everything as absolutely grim and hopeless. Then remind the cowering masses: “They are all bad. But we are all good. You need us to protect you from them.”
How many Americans does it take to screw in a light bulb? Hey! THAT’S NOT FUNNY!
So America. Here’s my hope for us in these oh so grim times of 2017. Can we lighten up just a little bit, pull back from our grim precipice. Please? No matter what the news is today, we can still bring more light into the world. Smile. Tell a harmless joke. Do something kind for someone else without being asked. Have a civil conversation with a person you disagree with. Say your prayers. Give thanks. Be a decent human being. Laugh at yourself when you get all self-important. Turn off the computer and phone and TV and enjoy the spring, which is really here, in spite of all the grim evidence to the contrary.
I’m done with grimness. And that’s no joke.