"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel." ? Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas
I keep waiting to encounter the "kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant" Christmastime environment that Charles Dickens describes in A Christmas Carol: "when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
Instead, every time I read a news headline or flip on the television or open up an email, I run headlong into people consumed with back-biting, partisan politics, sniping, toxic hate, meanness, unfriending and materialism.
How is it that despite all of the blessings and advantages we in the United States possess, as a nation we continue to major in minors, prioritizing politics and profit margins over decency and human-kindness?
We've been operating in this topsy-turvy, inside-out, upside-down state of being for too long now, but the absence of goodwill, charity and human kindness is especially apparent now, with Christmas just around the corner when, as Charles Dickens notes, "Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices."
For instance, Americans spent an estimated $6.9 billion dollars on federal elections in 2016. And what do we have to show for it? More of the same. The halls of Congress and the White House are as polluted as ever.
The country's endless wars, foreign occupations and targeted drone killings have stretched our military thin, robbed us of resources needed to shore up our infrastructure, and left us vulnerable to blowback, and yet the U.S. government has committed close to $6 trillion to advance wars in the Middle East and prop up the military industrial complex.
Pork barrel legislation, waste, corruption and general mismanagement have also contributed to the government's ballooning $20 trillion debt. Yet the politicians continue to find ways steal from those who can least afford it, while leading lives of luxury and excess.
Local governments continue to enact policies criminalizing homelessness and making it difficult for those who attempt to feed or shelter the homeless. Yet on any given night, more than 500,000 homeless Americans sleep on the streets or in emergency shelters; more than half of New Yorkers are one paycheck away from homelessness; and one out of every 6 children in the United States doesn't know when their next meal will be.
To sum things up, Americans have shelled out trillions of dollars of hard-earned tax dollars on political circuses, war machines and graft that fed no one, clothed no one, sheltered no one, and did not in any way shift the balance of power in the country between the haves (the oligarchic elite that runs Washington DC) and the have nots (the millions of taxpayers whose needs are not being heard or represented, and who must labor to pay for the corruption, excesses and graft of the power elite).
When will we ever learn?
Before you know it, Christmas will be a distant memory and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of politics, war, violence, materialism and mayhem.