By Dr. ROBERT BRAKE

“For only love can conquer hate

You know we’ve got to find a way

To bring some lovin’ here today.”

— Marvin Gaye, “What’s going on,” 1971

I was among many disgruntled Americans who looked upon the recent hate-filled election, with its thinly-disguised racism and angrily-trumpeted grievances, as evidence of a deeply-divided, polarized democracy.

But I’ve decided instead to heed some uplifting lyrics from the 1970 Three Dog Night hit, Joy to the World, “joy to the fishes and the deep blue sea, joy to you and me.” And I’m cheerfully remembering Louis Armstrong’s version of “What a Wonderful World” and how blessed we are, here on the Peninsula.

We’re blessed with lots of kind, caring people who watch out for each other and help each other, often without reward or recognition.

We’re blessed with bargains like the Pacific Transit System, still providing much-needed rides for just 35-cents. And the magnificent Timberland Regional Libraries, two of them on the Peninsula, that offer over a million items to me and other taxpayers for a mere 17-cents a day.

We’re blessed with six small post offices, whose staff and carriers know many of us by name, regularly deliver our mail, and often receive rave reviews or small gifts, like the pecan pralines I sometimes place in my Ocean Park mailbox for my splendid carriers.

We’re blessed with our lighthouses, historic Oysterville, museums like the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, beaches, the boardwalk, kites galore, clam-digs, Lewis and Clark, and celebrations like the Garlic Festival, Rod Run and the Water Music Festival.

We’re blessed with many wonderful nonprofit organizations like the South Pacific County Humane Society, where Gwen and I adopted our two cats and two dogs. And don’t forget our food banks, fraternal organizations, and churches that contribute so much to enrich our quality of life.

Most of all, we’re blessed by what I call “the quiet.” It’s wonderful to step outside my house to hear the ocean and a few birds and not much else. No big-city dins here. I can enjoy some golden sunsets and radiant sunrises, the swooshing sounds of birds in flight, the snap and crackle of a fire, or the occasional purring of my furry felines. It’s heaven without the inconvenience of dying.

I’m often the envy of my friends who live in the big cities. I tell them about a typical day for me. I’m up early to take my terminally-cute, 10-pound doggie, Sugar, outside for a short walk to do her business. Returning to the house, I check out the cats’ food dishes, litter box and water dishes.

In the spring, I feed baby ducks near the wetland, trying to provide some protection from predators, so I can watch and wait while they mature into my fly-away friends.

After all that attention to the critters, I turn on my favorite radio station, KMUN, listen to some Mozart, Bach, or some opera, and then make coffee and breakfast for Gwen and me, after which we usually plan projects for our nonprofit organization, the DoGoodnics.

We provide free musical programs and programmed iPods to memory-impaired Peninsula residents to help them re-awaken a bit and experience some joy.

Then Gwen may prepare her Boys and Girls Club programs and I may listen to some good jazz, write or read, muse in the midst of some magnificent quiet, and relish our deep sense of connection.

Who could ask for anything more? No longer harkening to the doom-and-gloom prognosticators, Gwen and I remain determined to help others and enjoy our little piece of the planet, here where the weather suits our clothes.

So, let’s all celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and approach the New Year in a more optimistic manner by pondering a magnificent poem written by Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali, India Nobel Prize winner in 1913.

It reads: “Where the heart is without fear, and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, where words come out from the depths of truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit, where the mind is lead forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

That poem gives me cause for rejoicing and a more hopeful outlook on our future. Tidings of joy to all.

Reach retired teacher and freelance writer Robert Brake at oobear@centurytel.net.

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