Archived Opinion

Just remember, this too shall pass

Just remember, this too shall pass

I recently saw a funny political sign that said, “Presidents are temporary, Grateful Dead is forever.” Did you know that less than one-percent of Americans can name every U.S. president? That being said, I bet anyone you stop on the street can name a musician or song that’s contributed something powerful to one’s life. 

The maker of this yard sign was a Grateful Dead fan, but the same slogan would work with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Elvis, Prince, David Bowie, Tom Petty and on and on. The point is, presidents come and go, but that which gives meaning to our lives sustains. 

The past 14 months have felt like an eternity, like this frustrating new normal is going to continue indefinitely. Yet, in the grand scheme of history, it’s a dot on the radar. I like reading psychological thrillers or watching shows and movies in this genre. I’m also interested in parapsychology, such as the belief in reincarnation or the after life. Holding my mom’s hand as she took her final breath stretched my psyche to other places. Grief will wear you down if you don’t believe there is more out there than the here and now. 

We can be our own worst enemies. Psychology Today says, “Nothing causes more emotional distress than the thoughts we think. We must do a better job than we usually do of identifying the thoughts that don’t serve us, disputing them and demanding that they go away, and substituting more useful thoughts. Thinking thoughts that do not serve you is the equivalent of serving yourself up emotional distress. Only you can get a grip on your own mind; if you won’t do that work, you will live in distress.” 

There is a lot going on our world that’s causing legitimate distress — and it seems things continue to escalate — but if we can’t control our own minds and feelings, what can we control? Over this past year, I’ve found it helpful to step back and look at 2020 and the start of 2021 with a wider angle. There is a greater purpose for what is happening in our world right now. We can’t see what that is, but I know it’s there. One day we’ll look back on this two-year segment with perspective and see some good that came of it. 

Politics has overtaken everything lately. It permeates numerous facets of our lives. Our editor Scott McLeod said something profound in his column last week. He wrote, “Those who view the entire world through the lens of politics seldom see clearly, no matter the issue or which side you’re on.” 

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If everyone, collectively, could stop viewing matters from the right or left, if people could step back and realize that political agendas don’t make us who we are as humans, that laws are not meant to be personal attacks. 

If we could put gratitude, neighborly kindness, intellect and love above politics, most turmoil would settle organically. In fact, some of history’s greatest leaders held these characteristics in highest esteem. 

While working to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic harmony and eliminate the injustices of the caste system, Gandhi applied the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, playing a key role in freeing India from foreign domination. 

Martin Luther King Jr. was well spoken and intelligent. He wasn’t considered extraordinarily handsome, but he had a presence and commanded a room with ease. He used his oratory skills and ability to connect with people to nonviolently advance civil rights for Blacks. 

Jesus Christ led from strength and compassion, as opposed to weakness or greed. Jesus was an exceptional listener and truly heard people, no matter their status. He told them “Do what I do” instead of “Do what I say,” then he modeled impeccable behavior. He was selfless and loved with a perfect love. 

According to polls, if you ask people to name five presidents, most will say George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. The point is, history documents all leaders but only the best are revered or remembered. Furthermore, whether a president is grand or grotesque, they are all temporary. 

Breathe deeply and think of your favorite musician or tune. Know that this tumultuous season shall pass and when that time comes, your song will still be playing. 

(Susanna Shetley is a writer, editor and digital media specialist with The Smoky Mountain News, Smoky Mountain Living and Mountain South Media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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