Pine Nuts: This bitter Earth may not be so bitter after all |

Pine Nuts: This bitter Earth may not be so bitter after all

I’m listening just now to Aretha Franklin singing, “This bitter Earth may not be so bitter after all.” I cannot help believing her. And I attribute this guarded attitude to a mild level of optimism, based upon a middling level of confidence, that most of us do care about people who don’t always think or look like us.

As a specific example of this attitude playing out on a personal level, a political adversary and I drove to our polling place together this last November to cancel each other out, and then repaired to a thirst parlor for a sarsaparilla, and lifted a glass to our amity and the future of this great land of ours.

2021 political differences in America have taken on a mantel of zero-sum sectarianism, which is heartbreaking. Yet we know in our heart of hearts that when we finally return to engaging in civil discourse we will come to accept that we all want the best for our country and the world. How we get there will require some challenging permutations of opinion, conversation, compromise, and goodwill toward mankind.

Our more perfect union, as prescribed in our Constitution’s preamble, requires a commitment to social justice, and social justice demands opening channels of honest communication. On a larger scale, a world-wide scale, President Truman put it in words that make it easy for me to understand. “We shall never be able to remove suspicion and fear as potential causes of war until communication is permitted to flow, free and open, across international boundaries.”

Did I mention that Harry had a Mark Twain quote on his desk alongside, “The Buck Stops Here!” He did, and I mention it only because it rings so true today. “Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

We must be bold in addressing and moderating prevailing pessimism and prejudice before they slide ever so naturally down the slippery slope toward nihilism, insurgency and autocracy, a decline history has witnessed far too often. Asking our youth to dedicate a year to working with our national parks or the military might be a good start. Maintaining our good humor might also prove to be helpful.

As a wise man once observed, “A sense of humor can help us overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected, and smile through the unbearable.”

So let us try to ease-up on our attitude of opposition and rivalry, and embrace a more amicable approach to our unified pursuit of a more perfect Union.

Well, now that I got that off my chest, I will get back to Aretha’s version of, “This Bitter Earth May Not Be So Bitter After All.” Then I might take a listen to Dinah Washington’s version, and Milt Jackson’s. I whistle that tune to my pet Jay, Huckleberry, and he just loves it. He jumps from one foot to the other like he’s on Broadway or in Branson or on stage at the South Shore Room at Harrah’s. It’s something to behold, really …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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