Thoughts on .. THE HOLE
The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging.
That’s always been my favorite piece of advice, and it came to mind recently as I watched my daughter playing in a sandbox.
She and her friends had decided to dig a hole as deep as possible. There was talk of tunnels. There was even talk of China.
I flashed back many years ago to my plans to dig a network of tunnels under my home. The details are a bit vague, but I’m pretty sure I was planning to resurface someplace exotic.
I never got very deep, but I’m sure I would have been delighted had I dug a hole deep enough that I couldn’t climb out of it.
I think that was kind of every kids dream, to dig a hole deeper than we were tall.
It’s strange how we seemed so eager to trap ourselves.
Which reminds me of my favorite piece of advice, which has served me well throughout my life. The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging.
I’ve dug some pretty deep holes in my life, much deeper than the simple hole dug by a kid with a shovel and a dream.
In college, I foolishly dug a pretty deep hole of credit card debt. I actually signed up for at least one credit card, just so I could get a free t-shirt.
I dug some deep holes by being irresponsible, and I dug more than one hole by thinking of myself more than the people who cared about me.
In my life, I have found myself at the bottom of more than one hole, looking up and thinking that this time, I might not get out.
But, I learned early on, that the first step out is to stop digging.
The next step is to put down the shovel, and the step after that varies.
Sometimes, we have to scratch and claw our way out of a hole.
Sometimes, we just have to call our for help and hope that someone reaches down a hand. Sometimes, if we’re smart and a little bit lucky, we realize that we’re not alone in that hole, and that we can work together to get out.
Of course, the problem there is that sometimes, the person in the hole with us is still gleefully digging away.
But, that’s a column for another day. My point today is that we as a nation have dug ourselves into a pretty nasty hole.
And, I think it’s important to recognize that we have ALL dug at least part of this hole. I know that we can get back out of this hole, but I also know that the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and right now, there are plenty of shovels still digging.
The second step is to put down our shovels. It seems to me that the one shovel we all keep digging with is the Reply button on social media.
Every time we hit Reply with no more intention than to throw some dirt, we’re digging the hole deeper.
Put down that first shovel, and it becomes easier to see the other shovels we’re using. Like the words we use to describe people who disagree with us.
Like the lessons we teach our children about how to treat people they disagree with. It’s easy to accuse someone else of digging the hole, but we’ve all got dirt on our hands.
Perhaps when we’ve all stopped digging for a minute, or a day, or a week, we’ll start to figure out a way out of this hole.
I think many of us today believe that the only way out of this hole is by scratching and clawing. There may be some scratching and clawing involved. I also think that a lot of us believe that we can’t really get ourselves out, so we keep shouting for someone to come rescue us.
It would be great if someone gave us a hand, but I think we have to figure out our own way, just in case.
Personally, I think the best way to get our nation out of this hole is for all of us to start acting like we’re one nation.
For people who may not agree with each other to set aside their differences and work for common ground. The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging, but maybe the last step is shaking hands and admiring the hole out of which we all got.
Manuel Alvear is many things – among them a Texan, a father, and a longtime journalist. If you want him, you can find him – on the opinion page of the Burleson Star.