Letter from the Editor: This wasn't what I was planning to write

  • Melynda Findlay-Shamie

    Melynda Findlay-Shamie

Updated 1/7/2021 12:21 AM

I started out last night writing something funny about New Year's resolutions.

But now, as I'm finishing up, I'm watching an attempted takeover of the Capitol in Washington. They're on the dais in the Senate chambers, breaking into offices, digging through Nancy Pelosi's desk, climbing on scaffolding to bang on office windows.


Vice President Mike Pence and President Pro Tem of the Senate, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, were -- understandably -- hustled out to a secure location.

It's all very surreal, because this isn't supposed to happen here.

I'm not going to publicly discuss who is right, who is wrong and who should be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Instead, I think I'm going to go back to my original topic: What are you doing this year to better yourself?

I ask this because I don't make resolutions -- I set goals for myself every year.

Originally I was going to tell you about how I need to get back to fitness after spending this entire pandemic doing three things: sitting, laying down, and existing on a diet of frozen pizza and cookies.

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Oh, and I also need to improve my handwriting -- it's pretty, but so unreadable it nearly cost me $90 this week (it's a whole thing, but the moral of the story is my writing is just so bad).

However, I think maybe my third goal for the year might be the best one to talk about this week: Practicing compassion.

I mean, I'm not a monster. But I see places where I could certainly do a lot better.

I tend to have a pretty short fuse when I'm stressed; I need to be a lot more patient and have empathy for people who, oh, I don't know, perhaps can't read my mind in those situations.

I also want to make what I see as more compassionate choices for myself: I've adopted a vegetarian diet and increased my donations to animal rescue organizations.


And, once it's safe to do so, I'll be volunteering at an animal shelter near my home.

So you're probably wondering now: "MEL. FOR THE LOVE OF CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH, GET TO THE POINT."

I know, I know. What does this have to do with all this stuff going on in D.C. right now?

It's a point I've made often that's no less relevant now than it has been in the past six months: You guys, we have to take care of each other, because each other is all we have.

But hear me out: Taking care of ourselves and each other doesn't mean you have to love everyone and agree with their beliefs.

Occasionally, sure, it means looking past something because the person means more to you than their cruddy Facebook rants.

There's also something to be said for healthy boundaries, too. There are times that the most caring thing we can do for ourselves and for others is draw a line and retreat. Not scream obscenities or call each other names.

Nope. There's no honor in getting in that last word. Let it go.

Especially if it's someone you don't even know, like your mail carrier or someone who disagrees with you online.

Remember that these are actual humans on the other end of your angry words, emails and comments. Don't wish ill on them or tell them you hope they lose their jobs.

Would you want them saying that to you?

There has been enough divisiveness and bad behavior over the past several years.

(Raise your hand if you've found out waaaaay too much about a relative's political views on social media and it's made the holidays uncomfortable)

(raises hand)

(waves arms around)

I know. I've been extra super preachy about the whole BE SO NICE, YOU GUYS topic.

But if watching this takeover of the Capitol today has shown me nothing else, it's shown me we need to be less divided and more kind.

For some reason, words from about 15 years ago, I think, from the very popular former Naperville mayor, the late George Pradel, popped into my head: "If we all hold hands and work together ..." I'm paraphrasing and I can't remember all of it, but you get the idea. That's the part of what he said that's always stayed with me.

I think that's just what we need right now.

Less storming the castle, more working together.

More healthy boundaries, less yelling and name-calling.

And, while we're on the topic, probably a lot fewer frozen pizzas and cookies, too.

• Melynda has worked at the Daily Herald for 21 years. She currently has no emergency pizzas in her freezer and is making plans to dust off all the Exercising Things.

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