The concept of grace is central to Christianity, which makes this idea of outrageous and selfless giving somewhat of an outlier in a secular world. But grace has never been more important and needed in our modern lives.
We’re writing this on Christmas morning, a slight bite in the air, gifts still under the tree, the kids asleep, the sun about to rise, a few gunshots in the distance as hunters herald the dawn.
Our editor’s health here has dictated, for the first time in years, that we slow down and listen to the rhythms of this season, and we’ve had an unusual vantage point on the hurriedness of preparations for this holiday, watching them whir as we moved slowly through the days.
Shoppers have no patience for the slowest among us. Grandmothers are putting on their best chipper faces as they ring up holiday sales at big box stores. Parents with children, everywhere, are exhausted. The kids look exhausted too. Cheap plastic toys and wrinkled clothing are strewn everywhere, shopgirls folding and whisking carts around, headsets in their ears so their managers can spew sales advice without customers hearing.
We’re not in the manger anymore, and we haven’t been for years. We are the money changers in the temple and we are their unfortunate customers. There’s no one here to turn the tables over.
This seasonal lament is surely not a new one, but it has extra urgency at the close of the teenage years of the 21st Century. 2020 will be a pivotal year for the world, and there’s plenty of reason to believe it won’t be pretty.
We devoted a lot of ink last year to climate change — it was a necessity brought on by some really horrible news from around the world, and that news isn’t likely to get any better. The East End is on the front line of this change and we have a role to play in making it better.
Both here and around the world, anger against immigrants is still on the rise, and we can’t help but gird ourselves for more of this decidedly unchristian anger to come to a head both locally, nationally and internationally especially under the new town administration taking office in Riverhead this month, and with a school expansion vote expected later this winter that has drawn out anti-immigrant sentiment throughout Riverhead.
Climate change and anger over immigration may not seem to the lay reader to be related, but they are. When people can no longer tolerate living under hostile environmental conditions, the first thing they do is try to go somewhere else.
Other societal pressures are also coming to a head. Baby boomers are beginning to turn 70, and as this massive cohort lives longer, the burden of diseases like Alzheimer’s, which steals the brains of our loved ones sometimes years before their physical death, is becoming greater.
We believe this is one of the most under-reported health crises facing the world today, and that’s why it’s our lead story this month. About 5.8 million people are living with Alzheimer’s Disease in the U.S. today, and that number is expected to rise to about 14 million by 2050. We are an area where many people come to retire, and the East End needs to learn to speak the language of Alzheimer’s.
So how does grace fit in to the world of the bad news we see every day? If religion isn’t your thing, this might not be an easy thing to grasp.
But if you’ve ever held your grandmother’s hand, rocked a baby to sleep, comforted a crying teenager or held a door for a stranger, you’ve already got it down. It’s really quite simple.
Be kind to one another. Try to understand each others’ pain. Hear someone out even if you think you disagree with them. You may have just left your mind closed to their pain. Speak up if something is wrong. Don’t ever leave something that must be said unsaid. And always give, especially to those who can give nothing in return.
We are each here just a short while. Do the most you can with the time you have. Be humble. Be brave. Be honest. The world needs you.