"You say potato and I say potahto
You say tomato and I say tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto."
Let's call the whole thing off – Gershwin
My three year old grandson, Ernie, who has a mild fixation with trains (and Beeeg Dinos) waits with anticipation to board the Elf Express. This will be his first train ride. It will be the real deal. His 16 month old sister, Ada, is happy she's in her mother's arms.
As we slogged through the first 2" snowfall of the winter Ernie looked in amazement at the steel wheels that were taller than he. He's short enough to see the undercarriage of the large cars; something the rest of us missed. It's funny how people can have the same experience and yet see the experience so differently.
There was a lot of that happening in 2015 and as this year draws to a close it might be helpful to look back at how things went. Climate Change might very well be the number one issue of our lifetime. Those in the know are convinced it's real and that it's caused by humans; too many humans. Others disagree and say that it's nothing more than a cycle we're going through. Not being able to agree on fundamental problem will make it difficult, if not impossible, to solve. You say "tomato."
2015 left us was more mass killings than days in the year as of a few days ago. Four-hundred fifty-seven people died from 353 mass shootings. Crazy people killing innocent people with guns has become the norm of American life. Some think we have too many guns. Some think we need to arm everyone, everywhere. This debate has gone on for a long time with no resolution in sight. I say "tomahto."
Like the lone polar bear desperately trying to claw his way back up onto the melting chunk of ice we saw refugees of epic proportion fleeing Syria, because people were threatened with death if they stayed. Some say we need to take in these poor souls as the core problem is partially of our own making. Others say we can't afford to take in only 10,000 people and that one in 10,000 might be a bad guy. Therefore we have to turn our backs on 10,000 destitute Muslims. While we argue about it more people are forced to flee or die. You say "potato."
The Islamic State a.k.a. ISIS, a group that we helped to bring into existence, has proven to be more hideous than most. Killing innocent people is what they do and all they know. They have hijacked a religion (along with some banks and oil fields) and have now become the bad actor on the world stage. We're in agreement that they must be defeated; the question is how? Do we "carpet bomb them until the sand glows" (thus creating more people who would inevitably dislike us) or do we strive to find another way? Do we defeat them with our military or our ideals? You say "potahto".
Some things are predictable. We can count on the same handful of people to argue in the "comments" sections of this paper. We've come to the place where we need only see the name to know what words will follow. It's human nature to argue; to see things differently. We can argue until the cows come home, but at some point we have to take some action; or not.
Even though the train is moving slowly the trees are a blur; mostly because the windows are wet with condensation from the exhaled breath of the many passengers. Ernie sits in silence as elves dressed in red dance up and down the aisle. It's hard to imagine what he's thinking. I can't help be wonder what kind of world I'm handing down to him. Will it be one we've fixed or one where we've said, "Let's call the whole thing off."
Happy New Year.
Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.