When Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle and Ethel Merman took to the screen in 1963 in the comedy action film, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”, the audience left the theater laughing and the movie producers went home with an Oscar along with several other nominations. The story was a win-win for everyone.
A movie produced today with a similar title would, I speculate, have an entirely different plot, depicting instead the current tragic story line that seems to be engulfing our globe. Rather than being a tale of laughter and adventure, our story is one of angry rhetoric, retaliation, and retreat, leading to a lose-lose for everyone. We live in a mad, mad world.
In this world, anger flows freely from one government to another, one religious system to another, one ethnicity to another, one person to another, in an endless spewing stream of violence, hate speech, crime and alienation. Every recipient of this anger feels compelled to respond with retaliation so as not to become a victim or be viewed as weak. Those caught in the cross-fire of this ongoing barrage of verbal and violent attacks find themselves forced to retreat into the shadows for the sake of safety. And as if this isn’t enough, the abuse taking place on social media, where people can respond to others in ways that are entirely unacceptable in ‘real life’, exacerbates the situation. Truly, we live in a mad, mad world.
So why am I writing about this on the eve of our national holiday, Thanksgiving? Why point out disparaging news you already know? To be honest, I have not written anything for the past three months, largely due to my discouragement with the world we live in. I did not want to be part of the social media sinkhole that is sucking us all down into its pit. I am weary of reading the rants and I refuse to ridicule. I haven’t wanted to be counted among the myriad number of invisible people who have something to say on the Internet. So I retreated.
So why focus on Thanksgiving? Why write now? Because I have seen hope. I have heard hope. I have heard hope in the voices of young people I rub shoulders with, young people who are growing up in this mad, mad world, having known nothing else. I have seen hope in the actions of young people who are choosing to put themselves out there, who are committed to making a difference in whatever way they can, large or small. Young people who are speaking up for what is truly good, for what is right, for what can bring change.
On this Thanksgiving Eve, I am thankful for a new generation of young people who are rising up with with courage and determination. A new generation of young people who, in spite of terrible odds, are choosing to walk into their future with hope. I pray I can be an inspiration for them, as they have been for me. Happy Thanksgiving!