Happy New Year — Now Can We Get This One Right, Please?

So, I was thinking about an end of year post where I would do my best to go about cataloging all the joys and sorrows of the year. But you know what, fuck 2011. It doesn’t deserve it, and it didn’t earn it. The economy? Meh. The political climate? Meh. We lost a bunch of dictators but also lost Steve Jobs,Václav Havel, Christopher Hitchens, and a bunch of other really cool folks, so I think that all washes out to a “meh” as well.

But 2012? I’m not sure if it’s going to be good or bad, but it at least should be interesting. Presidential elections here in the U.S., Olympics over in London, a Mayan-not-really-predicted-they-just-ran-out-of-numbers apocalypse — all should provide at least a few moments that rise above “meh.”

I make no resolutions — being of the school that if you only resolve to become better than you are once a year, you’re doing it wrong — but I do have certain hopes and aspirations for the year that I’d like to share:

  • Obviously I’d like a year that ends with no new wars and hopefully a few less. As one of my personal heroes Issac Asimov wrote “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent,” and if after thousands of years of civilization we can’t find a better way to resolve our differences, well then what the hell are we doing?
  • I’d like 2012 to be the year when President Obama finds wherever he’s lost his balls and learns how to say “no” to both the Republicans and the Democrats on the Hill occasionally. My trust in Obama is not as bright and shiny as it was at the beginning of his administration, but I still believe of all those running, I feel safest with the country in his hands. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Hopefully “Candidate Obama” shows up and sticks around through his second term.
  • I’d like to see fewer movements (whether Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street) and more regular people getting off their butts and becoming educated and involved about their own government. Think of it this way — presidential elections are the “gateway drug” to civic responsibility and involvement. I really don’t want to hear one more person complain about 1) the government 2) taxes or 3) politicians if they’re not going to bother to read up on the issues (and yes, reading MUST be involved – watching things on TV or the Internet doesn’t count) and vote in every single election they can. Here in Virginia that’s every year — I wish more states were like that. Helps keep folks in the habit of giving a damn (which in my experience is indeed a habit that can be fallen out of just as easily into). Oh, and no more talking about term limits — that’s just lazy. It’s like saying “I don’t want to vote and the system is broken, so let’s get rid of everyone because I can’t be bothered.”
  • I’d like 2012 to be the year that “entertainment news” and “entertainment journalism” become obsolete terms. I don’t care which actor is schtupping which actress (or other actor). I don’t care which actress or actor is on drugs, in recovery, or “reportedly out of control.” I don’t care about their diets, their fitness “secrets,” or their deep and abiding concern over [insert issue here]. NONE of this is news, none of this is important, and no 1/2 hour show, let alone entire channel should be devoted to covering what artists do WHEN THEY AREN’T EVEN CREATING ART. Oh, and if you still read People magazine, the National Enquirer or go to Perez Hilton more than just accidentally, well no disrespect, but I hate you. If you want to find out about what movie might be made or have some interest in the business of entertainment, well there is Variety and similar coverage and that’s fine, but I’d truly love if all the rest disappeared.
  • Can we all agree that now being well into the second decade of this millennium, some things should stop being an issue? I mean, let’s be a mature society and agree on some stuff, e.g.
    • The Earth is much, much older than 6,000 years, we all evolved from less complex lifeforms, and like stars, black holes, galaxies, and all the rest of it, we weren’t created by anything other than stupendous chance and a universe that was cool enough to come up with both us AND digital watches.
    • Science is the single most useful intellectual tool the human race has come up with, and is by definition, the only way we as a society and a planet can move forward. I think we gave all the religions enough of a shot at it, and to be frank, their record is pretty awful.
    • Being gay or straight doesn’t matter. Male, female, or transgender doesn’t matter. That’s it — pretty much all there is to say about it.
    • All those illegal aliens in the U.S.? Yeah, we can’t ship them all home — not only would it be morally wrong in some instances, but it’s just a physical and logistical impossibility. So please quit using the debate on illegal immigration to further your own bigotry about *legal* immigration. If we can’t, with a straight face, tell the rest of the world “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” — well then we should probably not have bothered creating this country in the first place.
    • Flying cars,jet packs, portal guns and teleporters. I want them all, and I want them this year.
    • In the end, it doesn’t matter what the size of our government’s debt is or how much millionaires get taxed. What matters is that we quit squabbling like a pack of hyenas over a corpse and start accepting the fact that as Americans (or even just citizens of the world) we have certain inalienable rights and certain unavoidable obligations to ourselves, our neighbors, the planet and future generations.

And really, that’s it. Honestly if any single item on that list came to pass, I’d be pretty damn happy. To all of you who read my sporadic and seemingly randomly posted blog entries or my eclectic and chatty Twitter stream, I say thank you and I wish your own wishes and aspirations come true this next year. Especially if any of you are really set on me winning the lottery or getting a nice big fat contract to write some books.

While 2012 is being bandied about by select kooks as the end of the world, it — like every year — is the beginning of a brand new world, and hopefully it is one of our own careful and thoughtful making.

I’d like to end this with a special thank you to all of you who made this year quite spectacular for me personally. That would include my wife Kathy (who has managed to put up with me for 18 years), my kids, and the most amazing friends anyone could ever hope to have: Kylee, Jess, and Ruth. I love you all.

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