Editor’s Letter, August 2022: Celebrating Joy in a Suffering World

Camping provides a glorious break to the daily grind, but looming struggles at home and abroad cause distressing dissonance for such celebration.
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It occurred to me as we were putting the August issue together that it encapsulates troubling thoughts I’ve been having in these weird times. With all of the human suffering we’re witnessing and maybe experiencing first-hand—the pandemic, mass shootings, war, climate catastrophes—how are we to live our daily lives? Is it fair, right, or moral to focus on our jobs, mortgages, swim clubs, and birthday parties when millions (or billions) of less-fortunate people struggle to survive to tomorrow?

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

This month’s guide to camping, “Into the Woods,” is a perfect summertime ode to appreciating our amazing outdoor world. You’ll find details on glamping, campfire cooking, camping with kids, nearby weekend getaways, and gear recommendations. If you’re looking for an escape from the daily grind, camping could be your ticket out.

That section is followed in the print issue by John Stowell’s “When War Hits Home,” about the invasion of Ukraine and the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister Cities Partnership’s efforts to get aid to friends in the war zone. He Zooms with two brave residents who have stayed behind to deliver goods and good cheer to their friends and neighbors. Both of them had visited Cincinnati in the good old days after Kharkiv became our sister city in 1989.

So here we are, celebrating our ability to go camping while speaking with people in the midst of war. The Kharkiv story is followed by an analysis of how Republican officials highjacked Ohio’s election redistricting process, representative of another war—a political one—raging in this country.

I poked around the internet to see what I could find about how to best live our lives while acknowledging (and trying to do something about) suffering in the world. Two very different websites—the Sisters of Charity and Tiny Buddha—offered similar approaches: Letting or making ourselves suffer in solidarity with people truly suffering will not help those in need. Celebrating joy has a ripple effect on those in our orbit, which can have an untold positive impact on others. Control what you can control. Good enough is usually good enough.

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