Steinbeck’s’ character, Ethan Allen Hawley, was a good man gone wrong. The pressure to become something more caused him to compromise his values and his very nature. Later, he would rationalize as if somehow he actually had helped those he harmed. Too close.

Now is not the first time a people have struggled in this Land of the Free. These days don’t offer a lot of hope for a lot of folk. You have to seek it, invent it, borrow it, build it. I personally believe that our leaders – left, right, middle, independent – go into their work to help build things, not tear them down. Do they get sucked into the bureaucratic machine that is perpetually running in D.C.? Sure they can. But I am not ready to write them all off. The mood of the country, and  that of most within my social circles, is dark, cynical, critical, and mean-spirited at times. I choose to believe in people. I choose to believe that our leaders feel it a privilege to work on the tough problems on behalf of me and of those who can’t speak so easily for themselves (not that I speak so easily myself).

I listened to our President last week. Just a speech? Nah. Vision. Vision changes. It should. Was “Yes, we can” just campaign rhetoric? I don’t think so. I choose to follow a belief in the human spirit, regardless of Red or Blue or Orange (what is the color for Independents anyway?).

Ethan Allen Hawley sold out under pressure. He came to understand what he did and had to live with it. He returned to his conscience and his heart. It may feel like a Winter of Discontent, but I choose to look for the moon on the water and the beauty and the possibilities just around the bend.

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