The following text was recently posted on my Facebook page recently by a former employee and architect:

Jeff, I sincerely submit that … The world is still a beautiful place… America is still a beautiful place… People and organizations still do amazing things… Art happens … Compassion happens… Humanity happens… The gun craziness doesn’t overtake all..politicians exertions are the same as they ever were… Our news feeds are based on algorithms and if you look for bad it comes to you (A ton)…if you look for compassion and humanity  it comes to you (a little)…. Half of every generation says it is on the verge of civil war and half does the moving forward since the cave man. Be careful that your news feed doesn’t convince you the good is gone from the US. Don’t believe everything you read … Or the what the machine sends for you to read.

I suspect, although I can not confirm it, that he was reacting to my many posts about the state of the world (no mention was made of my artwork.) I am concerned about the future of our planet—and the US in particular. The current maliciousness of politics is just one piece of an every growing stack of issues that the US has to sort out for sanity, safety and sanctity sake. I am not going to apologize for caring and doing my tiny bit to raise awareness about issues that are near and dear to my heart and soul. The future of this planet rests on those that give-a-damn for something other than their own ideological orbit or bank book balance. Note: I am not suggestion this is the state of the author of the post. The person also suggests that I should look for beauty. Stating this as if I did not—or that my Facebook posts were evidence that I am only negative. I wrote the following in response:

This is not about positive or “the opposite.” This is about my relationship with humanity. I try to highlight inequity, injustice and inhumanity. The results of that search are, sometimes, positive even though the “facts” are negative. For example, the exposé in the New York Times a few days ago about the way blacks are treated in our lily-white northland. The injustice is real—but through correction and education there may be a positive impact, albeit slow, on the lives of the black children living in this tainted stew of racism and police injustice. I can walk in a field and simultaneously enjoy the birds and flowers—but still fight against global warming through my behavior and reduction in my carbon footprint. That way the flowers may be there for my grandchildren —a joyful and positive potential. It is not one or the other. It is learning to live with both. All the best.

The world is too connected; too complicated; too uniquely integrated to search for only the flower fields or other evidence of beauty. While walking the fields of lilies remember that they are beautiful but also, in Greek lore, the symbol of birth. It is also a symbol of motherhood because the flower was said to be created from the breast milk of Hera. But without a balanced environment, the lily will perish along with the rest of us. The earth will not be reborn if greed destroys it.

I can simultaneously walk through and enjoy a field of beautiful flowers and think about how I can contribute to solutions. I do not deny the wonder of it all. It is by keeping my eyes and ears open to beauty and the beasts that I can find the balance needed to feel like I am not just sleep walking through life. Eleanor Porter did us a good favor by writing Pollyanna in 1913. The man who posted this is, it seems to me, quoting from the book: “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.” My optimism is not irrepressible. It is real but not cynical. Caring moves me forward.  

In summary: negative::positive::negative

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