As weekly rituals go, one of the most important ones came every Sunday morning when I was a kid. My parents were 50’s people. By that I mean they were teenagers and young adults during the post war boom of the 1950’s when everything seemed hopeful and bright and alive with wonderful possibilities. As a kid in the 1960’s the Sunday morning routine was this;
- Wake up grouchy from staying up too late to sneak a look at the late-night monster movie on Saturday.
- Read the funny papers.
- Learn life lessons from Family Circus, Dagwood Bumstead, Pogo, Lil’ Abner, and Steve Canyon.
- Eat scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.
- Complain about having to go to church and Sunday school.
- Go to Sunday School and church at the Methodist Church in Rowan, Iowa.
- Complain about having to go to church every Sunday on the way home from church.
- Pray over Sunday dinner and be really, actually thankful for all the positive good things in life.
Obviously the most important thing in that routine was complaining, because I listed it twice. But when it got down to it, we were thankful for all the good things about life. We were positive people. We sometimes listened to Norman Vincent Peale on the radio. We knew we ought to be positive and thankful and love goodness and be kind.
Somewhere along the way, though, the world forgot the life lessons of Family Circus.
Somehow we managed to screw things up.
Environmental scientists like Paul Ehrlich, who wrote The Population Bomb, warned us that the world could soon be ending. And we ignored them.
Richard Nixon taught us not to trust politicians any more.
We stopped believing in things like the wholesome goodness of scrambled eggs.
We let corruption in our government and inequality in the economic sphere become the norm. The greedy people who were cynical and had no empathy for the rest of us took over. That is how we ended up with someone like Donald Trump. Racism, fear, and complaining now rule the emotional landscape in America and most of the world.
So, what is the answer? What do we do?
Well, The Family Circus is still out there. We can learn from it, laugh a little, and apply some of those life lessons. Especially this one;