Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Years Eve 2017

            I had been asked to participate in a New Years Eve program by giving a four or five minute talk.  The feedback was positive enough that I added it to my blog.  It exposes my political leanings, and while they are not shared by everyone, the fact is they are mine, and no one is forced to read them!                          
                                                               New Years Eve 2017
I think it is a truism that as one ages, the passage of time between years seems to become shorter and shorter.  I always found that to be valid…until this year.  I wondered what may have caused that.  Then it dawned on me!  From my vantage point, this year had fourteen months!
 “That’s crazy,” but for me, this year of 2017 began on November 8th, 2016.  Time flies, they say, when you’re having fun.  “Fun” would not be the first word I would think of as my reaction to 2017.

A bit of sardonic nonsense is this little saw: “Cheer up, things could be worse….so I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.”  Whether I cheered up after election day is doubtful, but I can tell you with unshakable certainly that things sure enough got worse. I have been, along with so many others, distressed and depressed with much of what has transpired this year.  I always thought that my Country, the United States of America, was on an eternal uninterrupted path upwards.  Somehow, while we have suffered so many challenges throughout our history,  we have managed to become a nation of aspiration.  We have faced and overcome the abomination of slavery.  And while we have not removed all of it’s legacy, I believe we have made much progress in that area…still…miles to go on that score.  We have, or HAD become a leader of nations in the fields of science, medicine, the arts, just about every field of endeavor known to humankind.

In one year, I have watched as we seem to have embarked on a path of retrogression.  In the name of “Making America Great Again” we have turned our backs on so much progress.  Climate Change; Civil Rights; Respect for views that differ from our own; somehow scrapping all that is to lead us to greatness.  Some of our most steadfast allies all around the planet have turned away from us.  We have become less of an inspiration and more of a degradation to most of the world. 

I don’t believe that all of our political office holders are stupid people.  They are not.  But I do believe that many of them have become so invested in their personal political futures that they have been willing to forsake the values that would right the ship, and return us to a viable course for the future.  Instead, they treat those in power with the care and deference one might treat a troubled teenager….declining to use certain words lest they lead to a tantrum….afraid to exercise the slightest willingness to say “NO! That’s not right.”  In essence, to ignore that the emperor has no clothes, let alone the Oath of Office they took, (the same as the one I took as an 18year old enlistee in the Navy.  “…and to preserve, protect and defend the nation against all enemies FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC…” Is it now normal for the greatest, most powerful nation on Earth to have to treat it’s leader as one would an eleven year old with a myriad of emotional problems?

If I wanted to rate 2017 on the basis of five stars, with the fifth star the brightest, I’d probably conclude this year as a “black hole.”

 But be of good cheer! Let us recognize that through all the gloom and doom of 2017 there are significant signs of hope. I am willing to risk optimism! The marches led by American Women the day following the Inauguration;  the turnout of minority voters in Alabama to say, “NO!  This is not something we will accept.”  Percentage wise, the black vote in that election was higher than even when Barack Obama was on the ballot; the voter revolutions in Virginia and New Jersey, where people who had never entertained the idea of running for office will be sworn into positions of leadership this very week.  Finally, and I think as or more important as anything already stated,  finally women are coming forward demanding justice for themselves and saying “NO MORE!”  No more silence…no more ‘boys will be boys.’ No more intimidation.  I am awed by the marches…but the marches that matter will be to the polls on election day.  Otherwise it’s just a “feel good” experience.

After all these years, I guess I should’ve learned the dangers of optimism.  But I’m not giving in.  We are, even after this fourteen month disaster, inching our way to a more just and honest world.  And every single one of us,  has a role to play.  I’m gonna try.  I hope others will try.  If enough of us make our voices heard we can.  We, the people in this room, and in rooms in every city, town or hamlet around the world, are THE ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.  Only we can make the necessary changes in direction.  Risk optimism! 



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