The Blue Ripple, by Rich Paschall
My mother used to refer to many things as mixed blessings. In part that was because she could always see the down side of anything good. Her mother was the same way so I guess it sort of runs in the family.
Visits from her aunt Harriet would probably fall into that category. (That named is changed although I am not sure any living relative would be offended). The joyous greetings and fun visits would sooner or later degenerate into negative conversations regarding the hard life we all live. This may have been fueled by too many adult beverages.
We might hear about the “good old days” but that was usually followed with stories of living through the Great Depressions. Of course we could understand that the family struggled greatly after the market crash of 1929. It seemed unfortunate to me that 50 years later so many conversations were brought down by this memory.
Visits to grandma were mixed blessings even though I liked her a lot. There were always hard candies, marzipan and cookies from the German bakery. We were not allowed too many, but we were always given something. The joy of our arrival seemed to be followed by the annoyance of our presence. As children, we were always to be corrected so we tried to sit quietly and do nothing. You can see how well that works on little ones.
Illness or accidents could be a mixed blessing in my mother’s mind or a “blessing in disguise.” Although the situation was bad, it was meant to teach you a good lesson. Be careful. Take care of yourself. Avoid accidents.
When she was elderly, took a bad fall and was taken to the hospital, she noted that it was a good reminder of our blessings. “Did you see that woman who was in the other bed? Tomorrow she will have her leg amputated. Someone else’s situation can be worse than yours.” I guess I saw all of that as two negatives, so “mixed blessing” is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.
We have all had jobs that were mixed blessings. I had one that paid well but was unpleasant to work at. Another did not pay well but was rather enjoyable most of the time I was there. In our working lives, many of the things we encounter contain mixed emotions, mixed benefits, mixed results. In some, the negative outweighed the good by so much, I had to walk away.
When I was young and needed a car, some people I knew made me an offer on an automobile that was rarely used. I could not refuse. It was a mixed blessing. I felt I had to spend more time with the people who sold me the car and I always felt indebted to my father who loaned me the money. I was grateful and in their debt.
If I thought long and hard I guess I could think of many examples of mixed blessings of people, places, and events. We could often see local, national and international events in this way. In Chicago, we could look at the tenure of certain politicians as mixed blessings. While there was too much patronage and even corruption, they managed to achieve great results for us. This is why we referred to Chicago as “The City That Works” for many decades.
Very recently, many have hailed the great success of what they called the “Blue Wave.” Of course, it was not that at all. It was more of a ripple as many political analysts have noted. While the current political situation energized many people to vote, equally as many stayed home. NPR reported an estimated 47 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. That means democracy was the loser again as the majority of voters elected to have no voice in the elections.
For Democrats, the results were a mixed blessing. If they were energized to work harder, so were the followers of 45. Dems took back the House and declared their “Blue Wave” was a success, but Republicans strengthened their hold on the Senate which gives POTUS more power in some areas. While energizing more “blue” voters, Dems may also have alerted “red” voters of the importance of getting to the polls.
The House Dems will gain control of committees and have increased oversight of government next year, but Senate Republicans will have an easier time pushing through 45’s appointments to government posts and federal judgeships. That could push the courts more to the right, helping protect POTUS and friends. Many Dems will be praying for the good health of 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
When you wish to energize voters to get more people to the polls, you may end up with a mixed blessing. Your opponents might be energized too and get some extra victories.
There will never be a strong Blue Wave, Red Wave or any wave until there is a strong wave of voters. That would be a great blessing.