There are a couple of weeks at the end of the year where there is no news. Well, there is news, it’s just that most of the people involved in making and reporting then news are checking out to go be with their families. This is one of those weeks. The next one is in about a month around Christmas.
With everyone either going or about to go on a glutinous food vacation, I’ve been stuck with little that is fun to read. My least favorite is all the, “I’m getting ready to bounce for the week, but I am contractually obligated to write one more column before I go” column. As many columnists are men of a certain age this is the time you get that combined with, “I just want a beer” column.
There are two columns in my life I know will get published every 2 or 3 months. The first is “I just want a beer” and the second is “Americans don’t care about soccer.” They are usually written by the same people. Those columns are easy to write and they have two built-in audiences. The first cheers on the columnist and the second curses his name.
Those columns keep getting written because they are guaranteed page clicks. There is a certain segment that those columns resonate with. Soccer, craft beer, Netflix, and things like them are cultural signifiers. How you view these things informs how you view the world. There are people who agree with those columns because they see soccer as some foreign game ESPN keeps trying to make them like by you know showing it. Craft beer is this pretentious bastardization of the simple joys of an ice-cold beer people from Brooklyn keep telling you is great.
Neither one of those things is really true, but when the world is changing as fast and as unrelenting as this one is and you feel left behind by those changes, you lash out.
Jason Notte has written a good piece for Market Watch about how beer can be used as a tool to salve the wounds that have come to light in the last few months. The election results did not come out of nowhere. They exposed deep fissures in this country that are finally being seen by everyone.
Notte’s message is simple: Beer can’t heal these wounds, but it can be used to help us listen to one another. The rituals around drinking; buying rounds, toasting, sipping and listening while someone else talks; all help us remember that we disagree with each other, but not necessarily hate each other. Though there are those who do hate.
Friday the people who fear the progress that has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen will still be scared and angry at a system they feel has abandoned them. There are others who have a fear of the system born from feeling the system has always wanted to destroy them. Hopefully, we can take Notte’s advice and over a beer or two for one day listen to each other and not dismiss those feelings as silly or unwarranted. Maybe just maybe Thanksgiving can actually be used as a day of healing as it was intended and not the day of rest before you buy a bunch of crap you don’t need just because it is on sale.