Image from Rudolph’s Shiny New Year
It’s almost your turn. Just under a week and we get to see what you bring to the table. I gotta be honest: unless you were a super-wealthy white man (who also somehow managed to avoid facing consequences for sexual harassment and/or assault), 2017 kinda sucked.
America’s congress wrote up a tax plan notable for being wildly beneficial for the rich and disastrous for the lower and middle classes, who have typically seen their income stagnate or fall any time we try this trickle-down nonsense.
White nationalists, emboldened by an openly racist, sexist president, marched in Charlottesville, proudly throwing Nazi salutes less than 75 years after our “greatest generation” fought that same ideology in Europe.
Trump and his spokespeople spent the year discrediting our news outlets and calling into question even the very idea of empirical truth, a dangerous path for any culture to tread.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, our government did its best to pretend that Puerto Rico wasn’t a part of the United States and that its people, suffering and dying, were not citizens.
Hell, 2017 killed off Tom Petty, which is definitely not cool.
I know it’s common for individuals to make resolutions at this time of year – to be more politically active, to fight to restore political power to a true majority of Americans, or to continue struggling to make good on those democratic ideals upon which the country is founded – but here, in this letter, I’d like to request that you, 2018, make a few resolutions for us. I have some suggestions:
That those Republicans in Congress who voted for this latest round of wealth redistribution face their constituents in person, in town hall meetings, and at county fairs. That those who voted to let the ultra-rich continue to rule in comfort have to explain to their constituents why they did so. That they be honest and direct, mercifully (if only temporarily) free from the disingenuous claims of “middle class relief” and “tax justice.”
That more elected officials see health care as a human right, not a privilege granted only to those lucky enough to afford its ever-ballooning costs.
That Americans stop shooting each other.
That police officers stop shooting unarmed minorities.
That we get a handle on our culture’s seeming obsession with guns and violence and that we develop enough backbone to do something about it, either by working to change that culture or working to make it more difficult to possess and use firearms.
That we no longer buy the nonsense that guns make us safer.
That our president fill a few of the vacant positions in our state department.
That Bob Dylan remains alive for another year.
That those united in strength and resistance on Inauguration Day, 2017, remain united, strong, and active in that resistance.
That those who use their power and privilege as opportunities to sexually assault other men and women be held accountable and pay for their crimes.
That the elections this coming November herald a turn toward sanity, truth, and integrity in our government. That they mark a commitment to the promises our country has made and the promise our country yet represents for billions of people around the world.
In his poem “Gubbinal,” Wallace Stevens offers a possibility: believe the world to be ugly and sad and, voila, it is so. Far too much of 2017 was exactly that: ugly and sad, riven by injustice and inhumanity, dishonesty and disinformation. Let’s make this a better one. Give us a few reasons to start seeing the world as potentially beautiful, and I resolve that we will make it so.