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This isn’t the world I grew up in. I was raised in the 50s and 60s, when everything seemed so much simpler. Times were good, people were happy.

Now, in the 2020s, everything is upside down. The economy is crashing, the slaughter of children increases, drugs are out of control, inflation is killing us. We are split into factions with little respect for those of a different party or persuasion.

I don’t think people believe in the future anymore. That’s the saddest part of these dark times.

Why did this happen? More importantly, what can we do about it?

Let’s not waste time trying to cast blame on a particular person or party. That is not a fruitful exercise. But perhaps by looking back, we can begin to turn this around.

I don’t have all the answers. I’ve lived more than 70 years on this planet, and while you’d think I’d have some wisdom built up over that time, I confess there are many things I don’t understand. I feel the world has moved much faster than I have. I feel left behind.

I am a conservative. I prefer the way things used to be, in a simpler time. I don’t feel the need to condemn the past and I’m wary of the future, if things keep going the way they have been.

I believe if we can only restore our faith in our world we can begin to heal the problems we face. I’m not saying we all have to go to church on Sunday. Go, if it helps, but there are many ways to restore hope. It can start by recognizing the first principle, that life must be cherished.

We have to hate less. We have to care more. For this to happen, we need to slow down. We need to concentrate, and to do that we need to set aside some part of the day to think for ourselves.

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Prayer is one way this can happen, but not all of us pray. To start, all we really need is a time-out.

Too often what we think is molded by what we hear on the news. Turn it off. Shut off your phone. Find a comfortable place to sit. And stay quiet for a time.

It’s critical that we begin to turn things around right now. It’s not too late. We must find our way.

I think this newspaper could play a major part in our recovery. It is a resource that is underused. The Banner is a public forum, and it has the capacity to bring us together and to share positive ideas. What’s needed is more of a dialogue among the readers. A letter to the editor can be a powerful weapon against despair.

Let’s use this opportunity to talk to each other in a civil manner, to share ideas and explore the choices before us. Let’s not approach each other with hate and blame. That kind of thinking is not productive. Rather, talk to us from your heart. Remind us of the good things in our lives, the love we have for others, and the hopes we share.

I don’t mean to preach. I am sincerely worried that the world is tilting off its axis. Usually I’m optimistic. But as the bad news piles up, I find it harder to keep from despair. I know I’m not alone. The weight of the pandemic, the drug crisis, the killing of innocent children, the war in Ukraine, inflation, political division, all of it has had a deep impact on all of us.

My heart and soul are still hopeful that we can weather this storm and come out in a positive way, not only for our country and the world but for ourselves.

I have found great comfort in my life by following the words of a man that I truly believe once walked the planet. His name was Jesus Christ. He taught us to help each other, be kind to each other, and to believe through positive thinking our lives will be happier.

Mike Bethel is a resident of Bennington. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Bennington Banner.


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