The end of the year always produces a flock of articles listing the most important events of the year. After reading a few, it seemed to me the best move would be to one of those rare countries that is civilized, peaceful, and satisfied with what they have. However, 2022 is only a day away, and maybe it will be a better year.
Isn’t that what is said every year? What makes January 1 the start of anything, much less anything new? Absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, the cultural power of believing something new is happening can make a difference. There is always the possibility of an intentional reset in the minds of enough people to make a real difference. What would such a reset look like for 2022?
It would mean a general recognition that Trump is a whining loser whose lifetime of narcissistic lying and betrayal has finally come to its end. It would mean the Q Anon phenomenon has passed the way of pet rocks and Cabbage Patch dolls. It would mean that thirty years of determined effort to destroy the heritage of The New Deal has been revealed as the corrosive, anti democratic movement that it has always been. It would mean that a revitalized responsible conservative movement will emerge to replace today’s ultra right wing GOP. What of the Democratic Party? If it survives the midterms, it may enjoy enough of a majority to permit vigorous debate and still reach a conclusion that can be sent to the president for signature.
With luck, the economy will settle down to a more robust growth rate than it’s seen in decades, inflation will even out, lowest tier wages will continue to rise, with retail jobs still hard to fill.
Who can know for sure? What will climate change mean for floods, storms, drought, and wild fires? What will be the trajectory of the Chinese juggernaut? Will Putin rattle his saber and back off? Will Britain and the EU reconcile? Will anyone figure out how to better manage the world wide flow of refugees and immigrants fleeing the worst of all possible conditions for the slightly less worse?
What’s the value of guessing about the year ahead? None really. Think about the hopes we had just a year ago for 2021. Before we got to the end of the first week, Trump had inspired an insurrection, and the year stumbled on, lurching between hope and despair.
This new year will stumble forward too. We cannot predict, but we can be better prepared. Prepared for what? It’s not what, but how. We can’t know what will happen, in spite of best guesses. Random guesses might even be better. We can be prepared for how. What does that mean?
It means reserving judgment about unfolding events until they can be verified, and not by sources that simply echo each other with unproven allegations. It means to seek the so called golden mean tilted toward restorative justice favoring the poor and disadvantaged. It means being honest about who the poor and disadvantaged are, and not hiding them behind questionable social values. It means a high level of skepticism about anticipatory, speculative opinionated reporting about what may happen tomorrow or next week. There is a big difference between reporting on what is known about a future event and what is speculative guesswork filling airtime and feeding “the core”, whoever they are.
It also means a revitalized discipline of continuing education about history and current events. It should not need to be said that continuing education is not the same as consulting social media and websites trafficking in unverifiable fantasies. Those who do often claim they are probing new understandings rejected by the calcified establishment. It’s true that the new is often contrary to established ways, but it doesn’t retreat into a mythical past of old disproven norms.
As a Christian, it means following where Christ has led, and leads still. That’s hard. It means a willingness to question social standards mistaken for God’s standards. It means rejecting vengeance, violence and grudges. It means giving first loyalty to God, as we know God in Christ Jesus, before all other loyalties. To put it bluntly, patriotism is a fine virtue, but it ranks well belowLoyalty to God.