Unknowable Future by www.bigstock.com
With sugarplums dancing across fevered brows, the "New Year" proclaims the next episode, replete with conventional good wishes for happier times. Beyond the numerical permutation, is not hopefulness what makes any year "new"? Time certainly takes no notice. And for the many depressed souls in my travels, 2011 looms ominously, one year more of recession, plus one step closer to the dreaded, enduring rightwing takeover, with all its denial, tyranny and misrule.
I won't deny the hard times nor looming dark spirits. Yet, are we not still gobsmacked with free will, every Tiny Tim of us, open to frame how we embrace our futures -- whether with teeth-bared, teeth-grinding, or teeth smiling? After all, conviction that America hangs over an irreversible sink hole becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, the secular variant on End of Times. And so, to honor the spirit of the season, it is appropriate to offset, perhaps put in context, our sometime misread year of analyzing shortfalls, even ridiculing folly.
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Have we been critical towards an arrogant official or two, especially W. and his fishy spawn, like that greedier-than-thou halfwit who quit halfway through her term? Are we guilty of snarky intonations when having to re-explain the obvious? I am. So, let me sound an optimistic note and proclaim to the world, especially in deference to this lameduck Congress, happy days are here again. Not alone because DADT got killed but because bipartisanship got reborn, returned from the dead also on taxes (but nix on the Dream Act or 9/11 responders!). And, glory on high, Christmas remains on schedule, alongside votes on the START Treaty.
Let's even shock this White House, daring to yap about sanctimonious leftists, by embracing the Obama Creed, at least momentarily: "Don't worry, be happy, trust me" -- and the subtext: "Republicans are people, too, not just demonic forces." Yet, how many can forgive the White House for nailing progressives to the political cross? Finally, the dawn clears: maybe this White House had some sort of plan all along, with caving, dodging bullets, and abandoning principles all done to set up this wow December finish. Who knew?
Checked off are campaign pledges, implied and real, says the president: Bush tax rates (right, for the middle-class!), health insurance gambits, financial regulations (when they come), less offshore drilling, more food safety and more gay rights. But Santa, where's our greatest Christmas wish, true homage to the Prince of Peace: end so many needless civilian killing fields, close down two utterly failed wars of choice, and perhaps deflect new terrorist attacks. If only Obama, the new "comeback kid," could comeback from being permanent war president, progressives will stop berating him as the most Republican president elected by Democrats. Promise.
Along comes Lieberman
Plus, to celebrate dumping that monumentally stupid bigotry against honorable gay soldiers, we'll have to lay off bashing of ex-McCain troglodytes like Joe Lieberrrrman. Let us of course forego more liberal sanctimony, which means, literally "feigned righteousness." What's "feigned" about our "righteousness" when we're on target nearly all the time? Snarky maybe, feigned never. But let even that bide.
After all, how much imagination does despair need, or the conviction that rich elites, now buying off elections they cannot otherwise rig, command elected puppets to do their bidding? How much understanding is required to see a vaunted change-agent morph into a great hypocrite with a growing legacy of making bad deals with devils?
Complaining is easy, even finding Barack Obama more painful to experience than the horror which was/is the Bush-Cheney criminal machine. The "Better than Bush" blather discredits itself, as what's more disheartening than hopes raised, then dashed hard -- resolving how the presidential herald of meritocracy became the Herod of autocracy?
So, Where's the Good News?
Wait a minute, what happened to happy days and high spirits of Mr. All-Forgiving New Year Sprite? Didn't you console that despondent friend this week, "Live in the present, don't dread what didn't happen yesterday and may not happen tomorrow. Live in the real universe, not imagined horrors not yet here, all the while counting whatever blessings remain"? I did.
Fair enough. My best broadcast news -- the world is full of remarkable people, with brains and heart making extraordinary achievements, many not yet newsworthy, maybe never. The whole of America transcends Washington's dispiriting hopelessness which, like the economy, will likely get worse before getting better. More on point, none of us can predict the future, even our ranking on the top ten list of great (and/or menacing) empires of all times. No one can know in the present where the country in which he/she resides fits in the overall progress, or fall of mankind. Whether plunging downward, staying the same, even advancing (today in longevity, pain relief, diagnostic medical tools, alternative energy), sweeping absolute judgments must be recognized as preliminary, even projections.
Look how wrong celebrated prognosticators have been, a hundred shocking blunders for every one bull's eye. Like compasses in a magnet factory, we spin wildly, buffeted by impressions and sensations. Change will come, and it will be better for some -- in spirit and learning, if not money or goods or mansions. Some will gain liberation, plus clean running water, better food, and awareness, some will tread water, and some remain addicted, whether to chemicals, false hopes, bad science, or rightwing propaganda distorting the "freedom of free markets." History is neither fair, nor balanced, nor predictable, thus we must temper our own absolutes and conclusions.
Midway in the maelstrom