I’m the queen of making vain wishes. When I was seven years old in 1975, I wished that Santa would bring me a pair of tube socks to give to my brother as a Christmas gift. I made that wish on Christmas Eve because I didn’t plan ahead and buy him a gift. That wish was vain because I did nothing to help make it come true. I didn’t even bother writing a letter to Santa about it. I just told God and trusted that he would let Santa know.
When I was you
ng I usually longed for things that were much larger than a pair of socks. I was good at making global wishes – literally. When I blew out my candles I would waste my birthday wishes on world peace instead of a new bike or a Barbie Dream House. On non-birthdays, I found myself wishing that I could feed Sally Struthers’ starving children – all of them – at least, the ones I saw on TV who tugged on my heartstrings.
My childhood was disappointing in the fulfilled wishes department, but only because of my laziness when it came to making my grand wishes come true. I felt that my plate was already too full – with daily watching of Scooby-Doo, Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch . . . So far, with all of the binge watching I’ve done on Netflix, 2016 hasn’t been much better in terms of fulfillment.
Forty years later, I know better than to wish that socks would magically appear, but the wishes I’ve made during this American presidential campaign season are equally ridiculous. No matter how much I wish it, certain candidates will not spontaneously combust. At least my wishes aren’t quite as global as when I was a child. I no longer wish for world peace. But, every time I hear the latest American political news, I find myself wishing for national peace. That wish would also be vain, unless I try to do something to generate peace in my country.
I’ve been tempted to ask God to tell Santa to bring our nation peace, but I feel like it’s time for me to grow up and help create the change I want to see. So, I’ve given Santa the rest of the campaign season off while I try to take it upon myself to make that wish come true. Sure, I could turn off the TV and just ignore the political garbage being spewed among the candidates, but I’m especially addicted to political moderator Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. I’m fascinated by his ability to remain so composed while dealing with annoying people. I would like to be more like Chuck, so I tune in as much as possible. I devour other forms of media about each of the candidates, too – for reasons not quite known to me. I’ve always been too cynical to put my faith in politicians (I prefer Santa). My best guess about my motivation to consume every detail concerning this presidential race is that I’ve gotten sucked into the story – like I would with a soap opera. So far it’s been entertaining, but I’ve been watching a very very very sad story unfold about America. Maybe I’m viewing this political season like I would an accident. The more sirens I see flashing on the roadside, the more likely I am to gawk, with the anticipation of seeing blood and guts on the pavement.
An alarming number of sirens have been going off in America these past several months and the gory scene on the road ahead is one that I actually don’t want to see. What I’ve seen so far has been graphic enough for me. I see Americans banding together, pledging their alliance with a candidate, only to attack others; consequently, tearing us apart as a nation. I see people saying awful things about those they think are unlike them from behind the virtual safety of social media. I hear people that are so focused on differences that they can’t comprehend the idea of uniting so that we can move forward as a country. I know people from the right and the left vowing that they will leave our country if their most despised candidate becomes president. I know more people planning to cast a vote against someone in November than people wanting to vote for a candidate. I am really dreading the reaction of those who are unsuccessful at keeping their most detested candidate from winning. With the amount of hateful energy that’s already fueling this election, the collective response to the outcome has the potential to be tragically divisive.
I know that the presidential campaign season is typically ugly – it’s the unfortunate nature of American politics. I know that consuming sound bites and online headlines tends to make people think they are informed political experts with the right to regurgitate those sound bites. I know that people feel empowered when they hear a candidate putting a voice to their feelings. I’m not above this kind of reaction. Despite my desire to analyze American politics through the lens of Game Theory, I still get sucked in and caught up in the emotional tidal wave of campaigns. And, like most Americans, I gravitate toward the person who says what I want to hear instead of what I need to hear. I have very strong opinions, but I believe it would be pointless to use this blog to share my ideology and wish that people would see the value in supporting my most favored candidate. My heart is not into the effort it takes to change people’s minds; it’s into asking people to simply open their eyes and see the common ground we stand on. So, I will spare everyone my personal thoughts on Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. In my perfect world I would actually have Chuck Todd be President.
I do hope to use this platform to discuss a variety of wishes that I want to constructively try to turn into reality. I have no idea what all of those wishes will be, or how many will come true. I only know that I want my list of accomplishments for 2016 to have more than numerous Netflix shows that I’ve watched. Through conversation, in think tank style, I would like other people to help generate ideas on how to make my wishes come true. I would love it if this blog could become a place where others also feel comfortable stating their wishes for readers to dialogue about. Other people’s wishes wouldn’t have to be political, but they could be. I’m not typically into politics. I just like a good story and this American presidential campaign season – with its fascinating characters and all of its dramatic twists and turns – has simply inspired my reflection on what it really takes for a wish to come true.
This is the first one I’m throwing into the wish tank: I wish for a more peaceful United States of America. How can I help make that happen?
© 2016 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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