Euthanizing a Sick Year

I’ve skimmed along the surface of an angry, tumultuous time until I’ve finally reached it: the last day of 2017. This year, one of monstrous upheaval, forced us to reckon with the reality that U.S. world dominance is transitory. By putting a buffoon in a position of enormous power, voters in the United States played a dangerous hand that will almost certainly spell the end of our country’s position of respect. Anger at a “system” they believe was corrupt and did not recognize their pain caused sufficient voters to put their desire for personal revenge above the health of democracy.

Events of the year forced humankind, at least part of it, to reckon with the fact that our male-dominated society is—and always has been—deeply flawed. The patriarchy appears to be on life support, but its most obstinate supporters with the most to lose cling to the dream that male dominance will survive. Dozens of men have been accused by hundreds of women of sexual harassment and worse and a string of public figures have resigned or been fired in disgrace. Only time will tell whether equality will overcome privilege.

Worldwide, religious persecution marches on, as evidenced by 600 thousand Rohingya Muslims fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh.  Here at home, evangelical “Christians” (and  I used that term advisedly) are doing their best to take advantage of buffoonery in an effort to annihilate secularism and replace it with “Christian” rule. In Iran, protests against the Islamic government, sparked by economic issues rather than religious persecution, are growing; brutal responses from the government would not be unexpected. The fact that an utterly odious Trump tweeted about the protests is doing no good. A quote from Aljazeera tells that tale: Trita Parsi, founder and president of the Washington, DC-based National Iranian American Council, said: “The fastest way to discredit these legitimate grievances expressed by the Iranian people, is for Trump to throw himself into the mix.”

The people of Venezuela face a growing economic catastrophe. The International Monetary Fund estimates that inflation will exceed 2,000 percent in the coming year. In the meantime, food and medicine shortages are crippling the country, which is simultaneously experiencing a huge increase in crime and violence.  In 2016, 27,479 people were killed, according to the independent group the Venezuelan Violence Observatory.

In Chile, the global march toward the right carried former Chilean president, billionaire Sebastian Pinera, to an election win. His left-of-center opponent in the mid-December runoff was supported by Michelle Bachelet, the current left-leaning president.

For the life of me, I cannot understand the global trend toward supporting rich conservatives who almost invariably staunch freedoms over people whose objectives are to spread equality. I guess the horrors of Venezuela, brought about by a corrupt and ideologically bankrupt communist philosophy, is scaring people away from the “left.”

So, why am I rehashing all this negativity? The reason is simple: in spite of the obstacles we face, the history of humankind suggests we will overcome them. The upcoming year, 2018, may well provide the opportunity to wrest power from the hands of rich opportunists. It may well be the year in which the progress made during the Obama years in the U.S. will be remembered so fondly that the tide will turn back toward decency and generosity. We need to acknowledge and recognize and fight against the ugliness at home and abroad, but I think we must also look at all the ugliness as opportunities for goodness to take hold. It’s easy to get discouraged, but I hope I can hold out hope in the year ahead.

It’s time to euthanize 2017, the year in which its occupant, a liar with an ego bigger than the planet, sullied the White House and besmirched the country. The demise of 2017 gives rise to the emergence of 2018, a year in which change for the better is a distinct possibility and a fervent wish. The only way to bring about change is to be a part of it. And so I shall.

Here’s what I look forward to, on the social/political/philosophical front(s) in the year ahead:

  1. In the U.S., voter turnout will surprise those who expect mid-term elections to be uninspiring. The awful surprise of November 2016 will cause voters and former non-voters to come out in droves, supporting an agenda of equality, compassion, and decency.
  2. Women will surge in numbers, both in terms of candidates for elections and in terms of people elected to serve at all levels of local, state, and national government.
  3. Globally, an uprising against both religious persecution and theocracy will drive a movement toward more secular governments. In the U.S., the loud but shrinking evangelical right will find its voice dwindling as the aging relics who drive the movement die off.
  4. People worldwide will call on their governments to serve their people and to save their people. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and Southeastern Asia, significant progress will be made toward eradicating hunger.
  5. While a drift toward the right, politically, will continue around the globe, it will slow and will be “infected” with greater compassion and decency. Conservatism will begin to morph into a fiscal philosophy without such ugly roots.

I’m not really making predictions. I’m just suggesting possibilities and making wishes.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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