I haven’t posted on this blog for three months. There are multiple reasons—none of them good. I’ve been busy … I’ve been at work on other projects … I’ve been frustrated by WordPress’s new editing format … I’ve been discouraged by the state of the world. All true, but each insufficient.
There is something I am burning to say that will not coalesce into sentences with verbs and nouns and proper punctuation. Instead, I sputter and rage. I seem to have traded my Pollyanna tendencies for those of Nostradamus, or perhaps Eeyore.
Prophet of doom is not who I am. Yet I shiver to think of where we may be this time next year. And two years after that.
Over the last five years, I’ve realized just how much I took for granted about my country. How much I failed to see—whether from ignorance, naïveté, or because I was looking in the wrong direction. I knew my country was imperfect—that inequality and injustice were far too prevalent—but I believed enough of us cared and wanted to work together to build a more perfect union.
I wish I could say I still believe that.
I wish I could say that I still believe people value truth. And that the ideal and reality of a working democracy is more important to each of us than always getting our way.
I haven’t given up on kindness. And never will. But I am consumed by the fear that this flawed and rickety American experiment in representative government will be toppled by the greed and power-madness of a small minority who seek to impose their will and their lies over the rest of us. And by our belief that it can’t happen here. And by the seductive allure of cults. And by the ineptness of those who are well-intentioned, but unprepared to acknowledge and confront the dangers facing us. And last, but surely not least, by ourselves—the bewildered, incredulous, and tired, who wring our hands and share our fears in worried tones, hoping that someone has a plan—someone smarter, stronger, better-positioned.
This is how democracies are lost.
The coming year may be the most important ever in this country’s nearly 250-year history. No matter how powerless or ill-equipped we may feel to meet the direct and deliberate challenge to our democracy, each of us must act. We must do something. We must do what we can . . . and then some.
When 2022 comes to a close a year from now, what will America look like?
New Year’s messages should be hopeful. They should speak of the better days ahead and the sunshine that follows a dark winter.