My brother-in-law called yesterday from Germany to speak with his sister, Sigrid. She is also my wife, which is how I know him. In addition to being his sister and my wife, she is also her mother's daughter as well a mother to our two children. She is able to be all of these things at the same time. For my part, I have trouble keeping the laces on my sneakers tied. Nature abhors a vacuum but adores a balance.
Sigrid was not home. She was out with our daughter Michelle shopping for Christmas ornaments. I am forbidden by the International Bloggers Brotherhood (and Sisterhood) to lie so I am not making that up. Here in New England, we take our yuletide decorations pretty seriously and this is the time of year all the current crop of new ornaments are harvested, gathered, clustered or whatever it is you do with these things and plopped in one place for people to buy. We do.
We ended up making small talk auf Deutsch and he didn't make my fun of my German so it was a pretty good day, except for the topic which was, no surprise, his dismay about what he was watching on his television about how his brother-in-law's country seems to be coming apart at the seams.
It was hard to argue otherwise, in any language. And he serves as a reminder to me, who doesn't really need it, that the world is watching what we do and how we get along, or fail to, with one another. I'm always impressed and not in a good way, by the number of my fellow-citizens who don't see beyond the ends of their own well-fed noses, in terms of what the rest of the world looks to us as and for.
In recent years, as I've grown even more cynical and distressed by who we are when we think no one sees us, I spend more and more time glad to some extent that many of those I once called neighbors on the other side of the world don't speak with me now. For the most part, there are no words for who we are and not enough warnings about the dangerous monsters we are becoming.