When serious and even heartbreaking things are happening all around me, my little family stories sometimes feel like a cop out. It’s like sneaking into a tearjerker with some slapstick comedy; it has to be timely and appropriate if it’s going to work.
And by work, I mean making a difference or impacting you in some way. I’ve often wondered if that’s even possible with the topics I write about. Truth is, it’s easy to write about things that will make you smile rather than tiptoe into heated waters that might cook me if I serve an unpopular opinion.
It certainly isn’t that I don’t have opinions or pay attention to the things going on in the world. I often write around knots in my stomach after I read heartbreaking news reports — and like others before me, I pursued my journalism degree with world-changing intentions. Now my material consists of the people who sit around the dinner table at night with me.
That doesn’t seem world-changing.
From explosive diapers, burnt dinners, and 5th-grade homework, to marriage, little league baseball, and dogs — my subject matter falls into the non-controversial territory. (Except when it comes to the morning drop-off line at school, believe me, therein lies the controversy.) There are places in my writing, though I tend not to go.
For one, who am I to go there? I am no expert in politics or social issues — and whether I have two or two million readers, I want to write responsibly.
This is why I write about my family where a golden nugget of truth lies somewhere amidst exaggeration — and that’s okay when you’re going for laughs and writing about people who won’t rat you out unless they want to be grounded from technology for a week.
Today as I sit down to write my column, my heart isn’t light enough to tell a silly story. Every paragraph I start seems to have an elephant standing in the middle of it — or maybe a donkey , depending on the day and the controversy).
Instead, I want to tell you that when news of shootings and accusations break, it impacts the words I write. Though I might not feel qualified to discuss the specifics or put my opinions into the world for debate, I feel a loss when I see all the conflict.
Bottom line, I think we all feel it — be it expressed with tears, anger, protest signs, or even violence — our passions are the soapboxes on which we stand. So, whether or not our opinions match up, the fact that we are fighting a losing battle is something we all have in common.
That’s what happens when citizens rise against citizens. The casualties of this war all belong to us. That’s why I don’t often allow my words to tread into these battlefields.
Then again, maybe in my way I do. What greater weapon can we use than strong family bonds? Conventional or not (a family of friends), people are overall happier and less angry when loved and supported.
I write about the people who surround my dinner table because isn’t that everything in the end?
The people topping the chairs at my table are unique and valuable, and this is true of the seats filled at every table across America. No matter their race or anything else that defines them, everyone who fills a seat is important — and if they are reminded of that then overall we might have less anger in the world. I’m not as naïve as this might all sound.
I know our problems are big. For those of us who feel like we have no control over society’s condition, home is a great place to start our revolution.
Love and laughter are strangely contagious. With this kind of epidemic, it sure wouldn’t hurt anything. Bring friends and spread it into the community; approach everyone for exactly who they are: a valued member at someone’s table.