News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Keeping the Grinch at bay

Sisters folks are going to have to work especially hard to keep the Grinch out of town over the Christmas holidays.

A spiking pandemic has local people worried about their health and that of loved ones. At the same time, state mandated restrictions on business activity are choking livelihoods and threatening the survival of beloved local businesses.

The toxic cauldron of national politics and culture wars bubbles over into social unrest, distrust and rage, and all of its toils and troubles leak into communities across America — including this one.

Last weekend, a video made the rounds on Facebook of a woman in Bend ranting, cursing and flipping the bird at demonstrators protesting COVID-19 restrictions and demanding that the fetters be taken off local commerce. Local activists who have been on street corners in Sisters on a weekly basis demonstrating over matters of racial justice complain that they’ve been continually verbally abused and subjected to deliberately-deployed “coal rolling” exhaust fumes.

Maybe it’s just the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones capturing thousands of examples of the Great American Meltdown, but it sure seems that emotional incontinence is trending across the USA.

Last week, a local provider of health services reported that staff are being abused by patients demanding immediate service — never mind the 30 other people in the queue before them. People demand COVID testing and then argue about the results. People are scared, and a stuffy nose has become an emergency.

Retail employees continue to bear the brunt of customer frustration with restrictions and protocols that those employees have no choice but to enforce.

Everybody is in a heightened emotional state — maybe a little touchier than normal; maybe right at the end of our rope. There’s a Grinch in all of us, after all, and we’re all susceptible to his shriveled-hearted emotions of negativity, anger, and resentment.

But we don’t have to feed the grumpy green critter.

There are many ways to keep the Grinch at bay — and we all know how to do it. Getting out of our own heads helps. Looking out for others has a remarkable way of putting our own troubles into perspective.

We can reach out to friends, family and neighbors — especially those we haven’t been in contact with for a while or with whom we’ve become estranged. I’m not talking about a text or a Facebook message — what’s needed is a real, live conversation over the phone or virtually — or maybe a nice, safe conversation outdoors.

This might be a good time to do a little social media detox. It’s possible that the Grinch’s cave is actually located in Silicon Valley. We know that steeping ourselves in contentious back-and-forth that has no real impact is bad for us — but those platforms are built to be addictive. We keep on scrolling and end up feeling more negative, angry and resentful.

Step away from the constant sound and fury and spend some restorative time in blessed quiet. The transition of presidential administrations and the Georgia Senate runoff election will almost certainly play out without our killer memes and commentary.

The local economy could really use some support this year. Something as simple and pleasurable as doing our Christmas shopping here at home or ordering takeout from a local restaurant can make a real difference in people’s ability to sustain their livelihood.

Most of all, maintaining an attitude of gratitude — despite all that militates against it — can spare us so many of the ill effects of stewing in negativity and lashing out at others.

The great Texas songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard, who has graced the stage at the Sisters Folk Festival, laid out a philosophy of life that saved him in his song “Mother Blues.” It’s encapsulated in just two lines in a long discourse on strippers, gold-top Les Paul guitars, fatherhood and love:

“…And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations/ Well, I have really good days.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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