2017

Happy New Year?

Well, yes, why not? After all, there is always the anticipation as a New Year rolls around that things would get better; that new beginnings are possible. Who knows? And, for those of us old enough to have seen how history has unfolded itself in our long lifetimes, it’s ups and downs, war and peace, there is always the hope that we just might be able to see the world in a better place than it is at this oh-so-precarious a moment when our politics have become scary entertainment and our public discourse nauseatingly obscene!

So, as I always do in December, I checked on all my paperwork to make sure that it was shipshape: wills, medical directives etcetera, only to find out that my passport was almost expired! Hence, a trip to the Post Office was in order. After checking the requirements on the government site, I printed and filled out the application. On the following morning, I washed and blow-dried my hair being extra careful so that I would look “nice” in the picture; I then proceeded to pick out a suitable top that would look appropriate for a colored photo. After waiting for a half hour, a Postal Clerk invited me into the “Passport Office” (a smallish room off the main lobby) where she instructed me to take off my coat and perch myself on a stool. It was windy that morning, so after looking around, I asked her if there was a mirror somewhere. “What for?” She asked. “I want to make sure that I look okay. You see, this is probably the last passport I’ll ever have to renew, so I want to look nice.” “You’re all right.” She responded nonchalantly. She really couldn’t care less!

Driving back home, I was chuckling to myself. While this photo was sort of important for me being that it was going to be plastered on my last passport, it was of the least importance to that jaded Clerk who probably had a big load of work to get through during this busy Christmas Season! The picture turned out to be pretty awful anyway, and did it really matter, I pondered, since only an uninterested Customs Official would be looking at it? Had I been forty years old, let’s say, I might have been vexed, and requested that the photo be re-taken. This trajectory of thinking took my thoughts to why older people, in general, seem to become more tolerant, open-minded and serene. The awareness that we are living the end of our days invites a wiser and calmer outlook on life, and manages to cull the important from the frivolous. This, of course, led me further yet in my thoughts and to the conviction that God, if He exits at all, doesn’t play fair. He endows us with wisdom and knowledge in our old age when we don’t really have much use for them – nor, it seems to me, does anyone else these days – while leaving us mostly to thrash about in our inexperience and ignorance (maybe even stupidity) when we are young!

Needing to pause my runaway thoughts, I switch on the radio, and amongst all the inane garbage, I hear that ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) had just won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017. Irrelevant of the fact that I lost respect for the mavens in Oslo when they awarded Obama the Peace Prize before he had even set foot in the Oval Office, and that they did not rescind it after all his blunders and war-mongering, their choice was well-placed in this instance. After all, looming in our world’s near future might be a nuclear war with North Korea, or, perhaps a devastating war with Iran. It does not bode well that we have an American President who wondered what for we have nukes if we don’t use them (so, get rid of them, President Trump!), and a British PM who had stated that she has no problem with dropping a nuclear bomb. Both political leaders are irresponsible and unnecessarily flippant about events that will affect the entire globe and its people. How have dangerous words like this not caused a world-wide condemnation? How are young people, on hearing this, supposed to think? Unbelievable!

Moreover, simply by following the news – which, sadly, I know that many people don’t do anymore because it only causes them more puzzlement, consternation and stress – anyone would come to the conclusion that International Law, Geneva Conventions etc. have been long buried, and UN Resolutions have been suspended except when the US and its allies decide to resurrect them! Does our strident US Ambassador to the UN really believe her own inane words, especially those latest concerning Jerusalem?  Pretty damn wicked. These double-standards and all the double-speak occurring at the top levels invites ordinary citizens to feel that the rule of law is skewed and unjust. The consequences of that, especially on the younger generations, are immeasurable, and in many cases already manifesting themselves! Worrisome!

I arrived to the US a few months after Ronald Reagan became President. Looking back on that time I see that really not much has changed from what is “the news” regarding our current President. Reagan was called a buffoon and a third-class Hollywood actor; later on, he became the Teflon President as none of the criticisms seemed to bother him, or affect his policies; his trickle-down economics were debated to exhaustion; and the black/white/welfare issues cropped up again as they seem to do nowadays and every so often in our America! What has changed is that the new crop of so-called journalists, talking heads and pundits don’t seem to recall any of this and, in fact, sound so much more ignorant, aggressive, rude and smug than they ever were then. This is truly bad, because the American people don’t know what to think anymore and, for comfort, are moving further and further away from reason and towards their radical components. This is dangerous! I, myself, used to think that I was a Liberal, Progressive, Democratic-Party-leaning woman who sometimes voted Republican. I don’t know where I fit anymore in today’s politics! I certainly don’t want to identify with either the Left or the Right of the country anymore. What’s the difference, anyway? All is blurred! Not only in our country, but across the world where corruption is rampant bolstered by immature politicians who don’t seem to know what they are doing! It is truly scary!

Nevertheless, as we are watching a technologically interconnected world slowly unmasking all that was once shrouded, unveiling politicians and their once camouflaged and disgusting policies, we must also dare to hope and celebrate how this might – might! – end up being beneficial to humanity. Just as the recent predatory scandals have rallied decent people to vehemently protest that horrible behavior, so, too, will the unmasking of worldwide political shenanigans one day soon rally ordinary people to dissent and to demand transparency, honesty and justice from their governments. The sexual assault scandals might be that conscience-awakening moment that could bring on an avalanche of actions heralding massive change. Dare I hope so??

The final leg of my end-of-year rituals, and after the sheets are changed and all the washing done, I bring out my Swiffer to go over every nook and cranny in my small house. How I wish I could take it down to the Congress building and Swiffer away some of our ancient politicians clinging so tightly to their seats, and, while I’m at it, sweep away some of those terrible laws and bills that they wrote! And, after that, use my Swiffer as a witch’s broom and fly off here and there swishing away all the corruption and tragedies of the world and those who are causing them! As for that whole Jerusalem debacle? Oh, dear! Since I have already stated my views on this explosive subject I won’t repeat them here for you. However, if you are interested here are the links to what I think and feel about this issue:

Oh, oh Jerusalem

Two States, or One

Jerusalem Dilemma

Meanwhile, I might use my renewed passport, with that awful photo, to fly away to a more sensible and peaceful galaxy? If only!

Finally, from this cautiously optimistic old woman: Have a Happy New Year! Why the hell not?

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