Right about now, there are parts of the nation and the world that are sick of winter snow and ready to move on to spring.
Then there are other areas, in this case, Gilbert, Arizona, where we had the fun experience of watching our grandson Wesley and his classmates have a wonderful hour playing in snow that was trucked down to the school so the children could have a snow experience. Our daughter-in-law, Shamberlin, was in charge, so my husband, Grit, was the snow shoveler as it got packed down.
Life is different for every one of us, and our environment plays a part of our experiences. In this vast world, people face myriad challenges, many more serious than a little snow or the lack of it.
Because of our access to news and the voracious appetite of the press for news that will cause us to sit up and listen, we see contention in the world, in the towns we live in and in our neighbors' lives. Sometimes after listening to a news broadcast I can't help but think, "Can people get any crazier? Can situations get more serious or tense?" Then the next day we see they can.
After finishing the novel "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks, it made me think even more about this volatile world. I wonder if we are going to be able to put out all the fires and problems that are going on, or will we slide into World War III?
"People of the Book" is about an Australian woman hired to restore a valuable ancient book, a Jewish Haggadah, that was preserved by different brave people who, in spite of world affairs, were brave enough to figure out a way to save it.
The protagonist, Hanna, is being shown the ruins of 1996 Sarajevo by Orzen, the man in charge of the book. She says, "I tried to imagine how I would feel if Sydney were suddenly scarred like this, the landmarks of my childhood damaged or destroyed. Waking up one day and finding that the people in North Sydney had set up barricades on the Harbour Bridge and started shelling the Opera House."
Which is what happened in Sarajevo. People thought they were immune to the chaos surrounding them but found out differently.
Later, Hanna's friend, Raz, opines, "Well from what you've told me, the book has survived the same human disaster over and over again. Think about it. You've got a society where people tolerate difference, like Spain in the Convivencia, and everything's humming along: creative, prosperous. Then somehow this fear, this hate, this need to demonize 'the other' — it just sort of rears up and smashes the whole society. Inquisition. Nazis, extremist Serb nationalists … same old, same old, It seems to me the book at this point, bears witness to all that."
Could this happen in the United States as we become an even more diverse people than in the past? Can we find enough common ground or a person with amazing political skills who can bridge the gap we now find in Congress to keep us safe, solvent and not shooting at each other?
Hanna's friend, Orzen, after spending many wakeful nights thinking, believes the Haggadah was sent to Sarajevo "to test us, to see if there were people who could see that what united us was more than what divided us. That to be a human being matters more than to be a Jew or a Muslim, Catholic or Orthodox."
The book ended with thoughts of how important it is for people who are different to try to bridge those gaps and not end up with a torn-apart society.
This thinking got a little deeper than talking about innocent little children playing in snow. But if snow can be trucked in to give children the wonder and experience of playing in it, the satisfaction of learning to live with others despite differences can be taught.
Wesley and all my grandchildren, along with your children, deserve a better world than we seem to be leaving them.