Tuesday, January 1, 2013
2012: THE YEAR IN REAR VIEW
ANY LESSONS LEARNED?
(Tuesday January 1, 2013. Along the most recently paved segment of memory lane) January 1, 2013; a day for looking both ways at once, taking stock of where you are and possibly contemplating making some changes in this New Year. Today is a day for hindsight as much as it is for foresight and anticipation. Everything feels just a bit cleaner on the first day of a New Year. The triumphs and tragedies, the good days, bad days, sick days, holidays, birthdays, vacation days, bad hair days, the totality of the past 366 days, all 8,784 hours of it have yet to recede to the point they are beyond our appraisal. They are laid out behind us in a neat, finite, block of time.
Over the last two weeks media outlets of every ilk and reputation from the most stolid scholarly journals, the shallow and crass newsertainment cable programs, magazines, websites, newspapers, tabloids and blogs have presented their own versions of the best and worst of 2012. Year in review pieces start appearing just prior to Christmas. Every aspect of our society, culture and the world at large is classified, categorized, pigeon-holed, filed, sorted, and weighed by a wide variety of metrics, calculations and a great deal of subjectivity. Some of it can be thoughtful and poignant while the bulk of it is just so much recapping of crap. Sometimes we may lose sight of just how much crap we are exposed to on a daily basis but scanning all the lists and the lists of lists, and lists of lists that critique other lists we get a full frontal assault from all the crap that serves as the cohesive force that makes American life possible as we know it.
Yes, we are part of a wider world, a complex sprawling global community but Americans tend to have an acquired propensity to not look too far beyond home. There is nothing wrong with that except it is experiencing life as an intellectual dwarf uncurious and unconcerned not only about the far flung nations we couldn’t locate on a map if a shotgun was shoved up our asses but we have grown ever more parochial in our view even at the local level. So be it.
It is 2013. We have too much to do and not sufficient time to accomplish it. We have to multitask, text, Tweet, e-mail, download, upload and carry on our day to day lives soaked in the cold irony that the more “connected” we have become thanks to the social networking technology, the less connected we are to each other, even our families. But this is our “Brave New World” and there is no end in sight to what our sophisticated technology will empower us to do.
But, since this is our Year in Rear View assessment, we’ll begin with a wider gaze. We here at The Brooding Cynyx did not think the Mayans were correct in their 2000 year old calculations but would have liked them to be correct. After all, who wouldn’t at least be a little bit curious about what the end of the world would look like? No the world did not implode on 12-12-12 but virtually every day in the last 366 some part of it was jolted, or crumbled, or shook with turmoil, war, hunger, strife, and conflict.
In America we learned a little bit more about ourselves and just how horrifically broken the machinations of our government have become. The presidential election campaigns clearly illustrated how divided we’ve become, how detestable our elected official are and that the gap between the haves and have nots is increasing at light speed. We saw approximately $4 billion spent by the various candidates for president and Congress while being ground under the heels of a federal bureaucracy that can’t seem to accomplish the most basic of their duties. What could be done in America with $4 billion? How many would be covered by health insurance, how many would not be homeless or working for sub-living wages? How many schools could we update and neighbors could we rejuvenate? How much of our aging, failing, fragile infrastructure could we rebuild and put the unemployed and under employed back to work?
We got to take a good hard look at the cold pale white underbelly of the Republican Party and were disgusted by what we saw. We saw men seeking to pass legislation defining various “types” of rape and learned that some in that Party believe a women’s body has a “way of shutting that whole thing down” if she is the victim of rape. We all travelled into new frontiers of lunacy and bigotry as efforts to suppress voters of a certain demographic, were buoyed as homosexual couples gained their equal rights in more States, and argued bitterly after each mass fatality lone gunman episode as they occurred in 2012 with an alarming frequency.
We’ve felt the sprains and strains as our Constitution has been stretched and distorted by special interests on both sides of the political divide and on both sides of issues that should no longer be issues. But they are and they are many. We’ve listened to the people who have laid us off, cut our hours and eliminated our jobs and afterwards we sat numb in front of the TV news reporting Wall Street earnings, corporate bailouts, and golden parachutes. The din became a roar as we were forced to do more with less while the facile arguments about “redistribution” of wealth were vociferously argued by those who never knew what it is like to go to bed hungry and cold.
Yes, the past 31,622,400 seconds comprising 2012 treated us to a veritable smorgasbord of real issues and phony causes, of strains of apathy and complacency colliding with rabid engagement in issue after issue. Compromise became a curse word in Washington DC last year while in the waning days of 2012 we were smacked with a mad dash towards a “fiscal cliff”, whatever the hell that is.
We saw many famous people die and mourned in private pain as we lost family members, friends, neighbors and more innocence. Locations became infamous and draped in the purple bunting of shared grief. A movie theater in Aurora Colorado, a factory in Minneapolis, a Sikh Temple outside Milwaukee, and an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut captured the national spotlight while cities like Chicago, East St. Louis, Memphis, Oakland, and Philadelphia saw non newsworthy carnage with each setting of the sun. We heard reports of servicemen and women dying in Afghanistan and an Ambassador and three others murdered in Libya while the world community sat idly as thousands of Syrians were killed by their own government. We tune most of this out. We feel we have to and, after all, what can I do about it? Why should I care?
Then, of course, there are all those other issues and arguments that have taken on a comic-tragic tone as what is and is not the truth is kicked around. We saw the worst drought in the Midwest since the Dust Bowl of 1936, record breaking temperatures around the globe, powerful storms striking almost with a malevolent conscious vengeance. Hurricane Sandy redrew the coastlines of New Jersey and much of New York City and Long Island and the NYC Metro area got in touch with their vulnerability to the forces of nature overnight.
We saw and observed a great deal of calamity, catastrophe and callous indifference but, did we learn anything? Perhaps within the contours of our own lives as we buried a parent or sat vigil at our child’s bedside as some insidious disease had its way with her, or we experienced that unique aching in our hearts and marrow of lost a love, we did learn something. Hopefully, possibly, we did. If nothing else we might have discovered a reservoir of strength and resolves, of empathy, compassion, and humanity we’d not been aware we possessed. Then again, maybe we didn’t. Maybe we drifted further from the fold and embraced loneliness and shunned solace. Whatever transpired in our lives since January 1, 2012 are ours and ours alone to bear one way or another. That is the human condition, that’s life.
Looking outside ourselves today we might see the last 366 days as snow plowed up into curling frozen waves or as wind swept sand dunes piled against the glass door we just shut on 2012. We each have our own road to travel, our own perspective, perceptions, and history, attitudes, and life experiences to work with. That is also part of the dynamic parcel that is the human condition.
Maybe looking back and reflecting has value for some; for others it may be just so much wasted time. There is tomorrow after all and we have to carry on. But, tomorrow is guaranteed to no one and if any lesson is more consistent and sobering as that fact of reality, we can’t imagine it.
Our individual unique perch provides our perspective and we can look back on 2012 and celebrate the fact that a shitty year is over while hoping 2013 will be better or bid it a bittersweet farewell because our life is richer for what we experienced during the last 52 weeks. Some will make resolutions and take the tableau rosa approach that 2013, at least for today is a blank slate to do with what I might.
The Brooding Cynyx wish you all the best in
and contentment in this brand New Year.
“And there was a man who stood
unsure to look over his shoulder or look ahead.
He looked behind himself for a time seeking out the boy he once was
knowing that the boy was still part of him.
He caught a glimpse of the boy and beckoned to him ;
He wanted the boy to walk with him.
Together they would go forward and enjoy each other’s company,
Teach each other lessons,
Make peace with their common past
And walk ahead onto the untrodden soil of tomorrow.”
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