Opinion / Politics

America – Little Nudges, Invisible Blessings


We are all blessed in ways we do not see, have opportunities we do not realize, and sometimes stand at a cosmic intersection, a divine and mysterious place, not realizing we are here, that the next choice is ours – to try something new, do something painful, take or complete a mission. Sometimes it takes a nudge. Living in America is a world filled…with invisible blessings.

As a young person, I did not like to read. Hard to believe, but true. This was even more surprising since my mother was a teacher. She would have me read half an hour a day, misery. One day, I read a story in Reader’s Digest, could not put it down, international intrigue. That was it, end of reluctance.

In high school, my writing was sufficient, adequate, nothing special. I tried to write creatively but kept bumping into the famous block that sits at the intersection of could, would, and did.

I finally asked an English teacher how to get into the flow. She said, stop thinking about it, just do it. In other words, do not compare yourself with famous writers, forget them, ignore them, just let your thoughts come out on paper, that is enough.

In time, having learned to read and write, I applied to college, got it. I applied to graduate school, got it. From there, travelled to Soviet-dominated Poland, saw how little they had, got it. Later I applied for a fellowship in India, chance to work with Untouchables in Andhra Pradesh, got it. Working with them, I offered nudges like my mother and teacher, and they got it.

Back in the United States, I marveled at what we have, freedoms exceeding every family in Eastern Europe, opportunities beyond every family in rural India, and everywhere a chance to learn, live and prosper, speak, pray, give, defend what is right, defy what is wrong.

Here, as time passed – and continues – I am repeatedly reminded how fortunate we are, we Americans – how blessings we do not see, opportunities we do not realize, invisible intersections before us are often overlooked, not understood, missed because they seem hard or elusive.

What we do not realize, often do not get until looking back on a road taken, is that we have more options than any people in history – more chances to succeed, experiment and fail, get up and go on, assess what was done wrong and do it right, take good from bad – more than anyone had.

Only on the odd day do we realize what we have – and then, perhaps only dimly. I am the same, even now. But on days when we think the world has gone mad, when we get up slowly, sore, and achy, uninspired and disconsolate, vaguely disgruntled over the world, culture, economy, political leaders, or just the weather – and how dreary things look, take time. Stop.

Stop and remember three big things.

First, you live – even with all these energy-sapping, day-slowing, knee-bruising things to deal with – in the greatest nation in the entire world, in the entire run of human history. As a student of history who did learn to read, and someone who managed to visit 50 countries – America is the true beacon. We are blessed beyond measure – because we live in this special place.

Second, remember that – for all the disruptions, frustrations, and aggravations, short tempers, hot heads, improvidence, intolerance, and people who disagree with you – someone, somewhere, along your long run paused to give a nudge. Just as I got mine, you benefited from kindness.

Third, and finally, think about the fact that you are no more alone than anyone else, no more paralyzed than you let yourself to be. You – and they – stand at cosmic crossroads even now, choices before you if you wish to accept, things tough to do, painful but productive, perhaps incalculably valuable to you and others, if you will give them a nudge, perhaps take one. 

As a kid who resisted reading, who wondered if he would ever figure out how to write, who grew up in rural Maine, no more aware of the world than a book allowed, the best thing that ever happened to me was a few people pointing out the obvious.

And what was the obvious? Well, now that my fingers record my thoughts, just this. We are all blessed in ways we do not see, every day. We have opportunities we do not realize, stand at cosmic intersections, divine and invisible, often not realizing we are here. But we are here.

The choice – every day – is ours. We can try something new and hard, make something fresh happen, take the nudge, pass one along. What a place, America – filled with invisible blessings.

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Becky Beaman
1 month ago

When I wear my rose-colored glasses, I love this article. When I open my eyes to the reality of people bankrupted by medical bills, the unhoused and those forced to work three minimum-wage jobs to keep food on the table for their families, I see the voice of privilege speaking, and am saddened by our lack of empathy. For those with resources, this article is true. For those without, it is not.

Dragon Lady
1 month ago

Beautifully written article! Thank you for pointing out what so many fail to see or understand. Every person in America needs to read this and take it to heart.

1 month ago

In certain ways, I had a really crappy childhood. I turned to books, to science, and, above all, to nature for relief from the misery. There was always something to be discovered, always a way out, a comforting assurance. Nature was–is–my nudge.

When out doing errands, if I see an unhappy, ignored child, I’ll send a quick, knowing smile his way. We “connect”, he smiles back, and maybe for a moment, his day got just a little better.

Growing older gives us better insight regarding how lucky we are to have been born in America. I had abandoned religion in my teens, and came to appreciate my time on this earth because the world is a beautiful place. “Every day is a gift.”

2 months ago

I pray all our children and grandchildren will have the benefits and blessed life we have had in this country. I worry about how much of our farmland and properties are being sold to foreign companies and individuals. Our State Legislatures ought to pass laws and regulations about foreign buying in their states. Laws need to be made in foreign buying of farmland- That is happening in a big way and slipping by us!!

1 month ago
Reply to  N

Good point. The reason Latin AMerica is poor is because the European colonial powers gave all the land out in grants 300 years ago, and to this day most of the usable land is still owned by their descendants. Without possibility of land ownership, no chance of economic freedom; no economic freedom, no personal freedom.

2 months ago

My wife and I struggle though our lower ranking military years with our 4 children. We insisted they go to private Christian schools which made it even harder. Money was always an issue, and I was away a lot, deployed and she had the lifestyle of a single mom. I was shocked to hear as my children were older that they thought we were rich. They felt they got everything they wanted, (they didn’t) but they were loved, one of us always made time to be with them and made sure they got to where they needed to be. Their parents were together and loved each other. In their eyes we were a wealthy family. The boys are both in the Air Force and the girls are both Registered Nurses. We weren’t rich, we cared.

2 months ago

Thank you for the energizing message of gratitude.

Judy K.
2 months ago

Yes, indeed we have much to be thankful for!
Nice reminder, Robert B. Charles.

This reminds me of the childhood song,
‘Let the Sun shine in.’
So let the Sun shine in, face it with a grin, smilers never lose and frowners never win; so let the Sun shine in, face it with a grin, open up your heart and let the Sun…shine…in!’

Kim L.
2 months ago

I needed this little inspirational “nudge” today! Thanks!

2 months ago

Mr. Charles: Once again you have given me hope just when it was so needed. I answered the writing on the electric cars that are being rammed down our throats by the ilk on the left and I can say that I would still rather die then drive an electric car. I just gave up driving with a stick shift. I have been in many countries (not 50) and it is so good to see how you developed into the fine person you are today. I can only thank God for you and all the other people in this great country who only wish to better it and who are willing to put themselves on the line to help others both here and in other countries. I just watched on TV where a gentleman in the Bronx was hit by a car and as he lay there on the ground these two “useless idiots” came not to help him but to rob him. How low can we go? Is there still hope for this great country? I hope I can write one more letter before this Parkinson’s takes me too far down. Thank you for writing this and everyone in this country needs to read it. Sincerely and Blessings to you, Carol

1 month ago
Reply to  Carol

Carol – Thank YOU – Keep your faith, and keep it not tepidly, fleetingly, carelessly – but as I know you do, with heart and conviction, because the more of us who have that heart and conviction, the harder it is for the pessimists, anarchists, and defeatists to get a toehold. Confidence, Hope, and Strength – made firm by faith, reason, and resolve – are a force multiplier, they lift us all. Stay with it, we will get there. With thanks – great thanks – and prayers for your strength to continue. Warmly, RBC

2 months ago

This is a very inspiring article. It feels good to read something optimistic when we are engulfed in a sea of disparaging thoughts on a daily basis. Thank you, Robert B. Charles, for pointing out the obvious.

1 month ago
Reply to  JerryH

Jerry – the truth always shines, even if the darkness nibbles at it consistently. Stray strong and we all will. With gratitude, for your comment – best RBC

David Millikan
2 months ago


Laura Germani
2 months ago

Very uplifting article. With all it’s problems, the USA is the best place on earth.

1 month ago
Reply to  Laura Germani

Laura – thank you for reading and commenting – keep your confidence, and with that wind under our wings – this nation will preserve, regain lost strength, and again bring what we always have, courage, hope, and strength in defending the right – to others! Thank YOU!

2 months ago

RBC, enjoyed your article. I remember my WESTPAC cruises where the ship would visit impoverish Pacific islands and drop off donated items to these islanders, stored in the Helo bay. If visiting for a few days, the ship’s company would get together and do a needed project to help improve the quality of life. For us, it was small, for the islanders, a miracle.
We, as a nation, have always gone out of our way to send help to areas of the world that have suffered disaster. We have been blessed with this type of generosity.

1 month ago
Reply to  Max

So very right you are! Thank you Max!

2 months ago


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