Human Chain Paper
Human chain paper for teamwork concept

By Molly Butler

It was an election week which, in 2021, in America, means logging onto social media felt a bit like watching the Looney Tunes try to win a high school debate.

No one makes any sense, there’s steam coming out the ears and folks keep dropping anvils on each other. Could this seriously be one nation?

While Dems ran on a campaign of absolute mediocrity and inaction, and QAnon supporters gathered in Dallas waiting for JFK to pull a Jesus Christ, the nation is dealing with an unprecedented labor moment. My husband and I joke, these shops might as well save the signage: a handful of “Not Hiring” signs would be more efficient than entire blocks begging for new hires. After the last few years and this weeks’ results, a few of my Minneapolis friends still have the energy for outrage. The rest are full of hopeless resignation. Prices are rising, wages are stagnant and bots are messing with the housing market. Elon Musk pinky swears he’ll hook us up with a utopia on Mars as if we’re not already standing on a perfectly good planet, one we were literally made for, just waiting to be tended to (and come on, do you seriously think if that rapturous day ever comes, you’ll get a ticket?). All our fresh and shiny college degrees are starting to look like they’re going to gather dust rather than save the world. It’s bleak. You already knew that.

I’m here to do what we writers ought to do: push. C’mon folks. Let’s check out the most unappetizing solution. Think about all those morons and monsters and sociopaths you’re fighting within the comment section. All those hateful people you block, report, cancel. Keep them in mind. Now, what if, now bear with me, what if they’re not bad guys?

Nope. Not even them.

I’m just asking the question: what if there are no bad guys?

Friends, it’s been an exhausting few years of American history. Our nation was built on some not-so-pretty truths. It’s about time we clean up the skeletons in this country’s closet and get to the bottom of some sh*t. Oh, and we better hop to it fast. Clock’s ticking. Here’s the truth: for all our flags and fireworks, big trucks and Broadway, amber waves of grain, our survival is not guaranteed. As Jamie Wheal puts it, “The dustbin of history has swallowed civilizations older and fancier than ours.”

So, maybe it’s time to suck it up, buttercup. Maybe it’s time to unify, not under a platform or flag or cross, but under one basic understanding: if we are merely humans, so are they. Divvy up however you want. Democrats and Republicans, Millennials vs Boomers vs Gen Z, secular and religious, urban and rural, black and white, police and protesters, whoever’s earning your outrage these days. The tough news is, in this country, you can’t win! Not forever. Checks and balances and one beautiful melting pot, boiling over.

Hurt people hurt people. All that hate comes from somewhere. Pillars are crumbling. People need something to believe in. No wonder the extremes are oh so tempting. I can’t blame folks for seeking the comfort of hate and anger and rejection. I do it too! Of course, I do! It’s just not working. I don’t see a solution when the question is “us or them?”

Maybe I’m missing the mark. I’m not trying to invalidate anyone’s wounds. This isn’t about giving up the quest for accountability. It’s not about permitting evil. I just want to consider dropping the blood lust long enough to acknowledge, hey, we’re on a sinking ship. It’s all hands on deck.

Are we going to cannibalize ourselves, go gnashing and clawing and accusing right into that dustbin of history, or are we going to get down to that much less click-baity work of healing, forgiving and respecting? Friends, I do not know the answer. I’m just asking the question: what if there are no bad guys?

Have a lovely weekend, be good to your neighbors.


As winter approaches, you can help those less fortunate. Drummer’s Garden Center of Mankato invites you to participate in Caring Rose Week. Bring two non-perishable food items and a $10 donation to receive one dozen long-stemmed roses! Caring Rose Week happens the week before National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week to bring resources and awareness to those in need.

Swing by the Arts Center of St. Peter Holiday Market from 1-5 p.m. to shop books, prints, photography and more on Minnesota Ave in St. Peter. Get ready for game night! Atlantis Hobby has Friday Night Magic at 6 p.m. every Friday, with $15 Draft Entry with a pack per win, Standard Entry is $8 with $4 or a pack per win.

Catch live music around town this Friday! The Matt Woods Band will be at the Blue Boat in Mankato from 7-9 p.m. Check out Duelly Noted, a comic piano duel, at the State Street Theater in New Ulm, with $17 tickets available for purchase at the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce or online. Gorgatron, Graveslave, and Defiled Sacrament will be at The What’s Up Lounge in Mankato; the show starts at 8:30 p.m., and follow the event page for details!


Fit and Grit Training is a veteran-owned business, and they’d like to invite you to their goal of supporting Mission 22 to raise awareness for veteran mental health and wellness. Join them from 9-11:30 a.m. on the Sibley Park sledding hill for a workout event. Tickets, including a raffle ticket, are $22, with half of the ticket sales and 100% of raffle proceeds being donated to Mission 22. The Resource Fair is FREE and open to all. There will also be a food truck serving a hot lunch! Put on your workout clothes and sweat for a good cause!

Nicollet Bike and Ski Shop will host a Jib Fest this weekend. Jam some rails in the parking lot, ski and ride and kick off the season in this unique opportunity to hit some rails in Old Town Mankato before the ski hills are open. Enjoy music, prizes and more. There will be snow!

The Blue Earth County Historical Society is celebrating 120 years of tradition. Stop by from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for door prizes and a chance to view Sips, Style and Stories: Blue Earth County’s Beverage and Fashion History. Admission is FREE this Saturday in celebration! Plus, every donation from November 5-7 will be matched up to $12,000.

Chankaska Creek is hosting another Toast to Women! Get your tickets and enjoy a day of shopping, wine and fun! There will be boutique, jewelry, health, self-care, salon vendors and more! The event begins at 11 a.m. and goes through 5:45 p.m.

Andy Hughes will be playing 7-9 p.m. at the LocAle Brewing Company in Mankato. You can catch Howard “Guitar” Luedtke & Blue Max at the Oleander Saloon; this FREE show is from 8:30 p.m. to midnight. Darkness Descends on NaKato! They’re hosting a Surly Darkness part to support local artist and logo designer, Justin Bergo. Enjoy live music from Loadie and featured Darkness bottles for sale and on draft, plus lots of Surly swag giveaways from 9 p.m. to midnight.


The Mankato Farmers’ Market is moving indoors! Head to Drummers Garden Center in Mankato from 10 a.m. to noon for your fresh and local produce and products. Get your holiday shopping started at the Holiday Arts, Crafts and Gift Show at River Hills Mall in Mankato from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Vagabond Village is hosting a Zine Art Social! From noon to 3 p.m., join Josh and Shannon at their art tables for free art supplies and Open platform. Submit our entries for their 6th ZINE, launching November 26th. You’ll also receive 20% off storewide for your participation.

Added Value: For a World Falling Apart

Tonglen is a meditation technique used to lay the foundation of active compassion. It rejects our natural instinct to escape discomfort and pain and pushes the practitioner to acknowledge and accept our struggles without resignation. The result of this practice is typically a sense of agency, connection and acceptance. Here is a brief guide to Tonglen meditation by Pema Chödrön if you are interested in attempting this practice.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.