As I sat down to write this last blog of 2022, I looked back at the blog I wrote at the beginning of the year. Here is the opening paragraph.
I don’t know how to start this new year that feels already old. The usual resolutions seem irrelevant, the questions bewildering, the answers out of reach. I don’t know how to fix the mess the country has gotten itself into, a mess that is heading toward another crisis on Election Day. I can only fall back on my core belief that understanding is necessary for solution, which is why I’ve spent blog after blog trying to understand how we’ve done this to ourselves. Understanding doesn’t fix anything, but it changes the way we think about it—and quells fear. But today I’ve shaken off gloom by reminding myself of a gift I’ve discovered as a writer. Look around. That’s real.
I’m surprised to find that I no longer feel so discouraged. Despite inflation, labor shortages, frigid temperatures and snowdrifts, I feel a nation that has shaken loose from its downward spiral and come awake to the dangers it was courting. When the Supreme Court reversed Roe vs Wade, the citizenry rose up and rejected it. Trump now fights to control the Republican Party, and elections losses have led leaders to publicly decry the cost of that subservience. “Trump the Loser” is now the cry of many leaders. On the Democratic side, the demands of the far left have been oddly quiet—bemused, perhaps, by the success of a moderate president? Legislators roll out bill after bill from a Congress that has been log-jammed since the century opened. The forecast recession hasn’t happened and now looks doubtful.
Yes, the mess is still there. Most of the election shift away from Trump was in the swing states, the Supreme Court is not done erasing the progress of generations; nurses, doctors, flight attendants, and handymen are in critically short supply; inflation still gouges the population, and critical cold grips the nation. Maybe I feel better because the arctic storm came early to the Northwest, and we have now emerged from the snow drifts that have buried much of the nation. But I don’t think so.
Hope is real, and without it there’s no fixing anything. The impressive work of the January 6th Committee is done, displaying the intentions of our past President for all to see. We await the Justice Department’s action now, and putting the Trump years behind us rests on that. Maybe the popular uprising against their decision on Roe vs Wade will lead the Court to reconsider its rightward plunge, but if not, Congress is now acting to protect citizen rights. There’s motion, shifting, cracking, small eruptions in the frozen state of previous years. An awakening.
PS: Last year, I urged readers to look to their personal realities to break the gloom, and gave an account of my morning walk with our trio of basenjis. I’m happy to report that Jake, Dex, and Bridget all turned a year older over the holidays: 13, 15, and 16, respectively, but are still trotting around the block. As am I, and this year I urge all to raise their heads again to find hope in the national scene.