I was originally planning to write a post about what a disappointment 2021 was, but when I read the Editor’s Letter in the latest issue of The Week magazine, written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, William Falk, I decided that he expressed far better than I ever could how disappointing of a year 2021 was. So I thought I’d share with you what he wrote.
This is a dark time in a dark year. It began horribly, with a violent assault on the Capitol intended to stop the peaceful transfer of power — a first for our nation. The climate showed us where we’re headed, as biblical droughts baked the West and sucked reservoirs dry, 115-degree heat waves paralyzed Portland and Seattle, and a polar cold snap froze Texas solid. Forests in the Western U.S. and the world exploded into flames. Monstrous tornadoes — almost never seen in December — erased communities across Kentucky and the Midwest. The pandemic we thought we’d beaten in the spring roared back twice, through Greek-lettered, mutation-disguised variants that have filled hospitals and morgues with the voluntarily unvaccinated. In this season of renewal and of hope, it takes real effort to find optimism about the future in our sore, beleaguered hearts.
We can reasonably hope the pandemic will wane this year at last, after holding humanity hostage for more than two years. But there’s no reason to expect an end to another viral epidemic — of misinformation and tribal hatred — that endangers our democracy. Americans no longer share common facts, information, or trusted sources and experts; a virtual secession has already occurred. Extremists are pushing the parties further apart, and on the Right, a radical, anti-democracy movement is gaining momentum. Three retired U.S. generals warned this week that a disputed presidential election in 2024 could cause “a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines” — and actual civil war. If that sounds nuts, remember that two years ago, an insurrection and a pandemic were just as unimaginable.
In the face of so many troubles and sorrows, what do we do? For perspective, I often think back to what my parents’ generation faced, and how dark it must have felt as 1941 gave way to 1942. Then, as now, surrender was not an option. Curse the darkness. Fight. Persist. The light is coming. Eventually.
The only area on which I may differ with Mr. Falk is where he believes, “The light is coming. Eventually.” I’m not that optimistic. I sincerely hope that he is right and that I am wrong.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Image credit: LemonBox@zazzle.com.