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by Mike Masterson | December 26, 2021 at 1:51 a.m.

This column initially was written to appear on Christmas Day.

After thinking things through, my rational brain was able to overwhelm my emotional monkey mind and concluded this opinion was not an acceptable way to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

I tried hard to jump-start the Christmas spirit this season, the euphoria of being alive for yet another celebration of Christ's birth. There's never been a time in my life when I needed that uplifting feeling any more.

But I realize it's been most difficult for many others to retain the spirit this grossly abnormal season.

Instead of universal peace, love and joy, I've wound up with a sense of anger, concern and weary frustration over everything from soaring inflation and our supply-chain disaster, to the ill-conceived lunacy of defunding police departments as crime rates skyrocket in some major cities.

There's also the seemingly never-ending covid scourge and its variants, a politically divided nation, thousands among us displaced by terrible storms and wildfires, the absurd movement to "cancel" fellow citizens, a serious loss of confidence and trust in national government and its conjoined companion corporate media, the rising threats from China, Russia, North Korea and Iran who see our obvious weakness and dearth of leadership, the rampant hypocrisy and, of course all the contention and gross incompetence in Washington.

It's a lengthy, disillusioning and incomplete list that feels to many to be contrived to achieve a particular end.

As a result, I considered heading for bed and covering my head with a reduced-price MyPillow.

Instead, I did what I should have been doing all along by retraining my focus on the divine presence that formed me, beginning with the mysterious, mystical energy flash that started my first cell dividing in the womb to eventually become Mike.

Reflection is a good thing, especially during the Christmas season when, until relatively recently, most Americans collectively celebrated joy to the world, peace on Earth and good will toward others. That meant all others, not just those who speak and march to one out-of-beat radical drummer.

This year painfully emphasized how far we have strayed from yuletide messages of unconditional love, forgiveness, compassion and kindness, a further deviation from what we came to know in years past as a "normal" Christmas.

With so much distress, concern and sadness weighing on our hearts and minds, little wonder this season has been unlike any other in my 75 years on the planet.

It's felt to me as if selfishness, deception and I don't know what else to call it but evil have been draped like a dark cape over our society.

Most Christmases past had been the most wonderful time of the year when spirits soared and I looked forward (as an adult, anyway) to happily giving friends and loved ones reasons to smile and rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ.

I tried hard this season to find my quiet place inside to hopefully regain the sense of sharing and caring. But with the avalanche of woe, it wasn't the same.

All I had to do was turn on the TV set and wham-bam! Here came another flood of negativity surging through me. And each time I asked myself why I was repeatedly slapping myself with a cold, wet towel by watching. Creature of habit, I suppose.

I wouldn't go so far to say I've become a cynic. I haven't forgotten what Christmases past have represented. It's been more a matter of context, like being a realist in a country gone berserk.

Dwelling, more like drowning, in the constant drone of negativity has been foreign to me and perhaps to most of us.

I've spent a lifetime reveling in the positive aspects of simply being alive and appreciative for my abbreviated time here.

Today, however, short of heading for a warm spot beneath that MyPillow, it seems impossible to ignore all the dishonesty, nastiness and ineptitude.

Any words I type on this page can't possibly do justice to how disappointed all of it makes me.

I'm certain at this point you can see why I chose not to publish this less-than-joyful column Saturday morning.

None of us needed to read about my perceptions of reality on Christmas Day in 2021 America (although somehow I strongly suspect others who are equally concerned share my perspective).

There is an upside to this crush of destructive dysfunction swirling around and through our nation.

It's caused me to more fully appreciate the reason for the season: A deeply personal, spiritual appeal to become a better, more committed person while honoring the birth of our savior.

My day was spent in considerable prayer and reflection of my faith.

When all is said and done, my friends, and sight and sound vanish, that's all any of us who arrived in this strange world naked and weak, and will soon depart in exactly the same way, can hope to do.

Now go out into the world and treat everyone you meet exactly like you want them to treat you.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Print Headline: The day after


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