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The New Year, Same as the Old Year?

January 2, 2013
No, I did not make these.  I wish!

Silly party hats.

I am always a bit rueful when December 31st rolls round.  The year is over already?  I just got used to writing 2012 on my cover letters!  And what happened to 2000?  I remember Y2K, the pog craze of the ‘90s and the blizzard of 1996, goddamn it.  It can’t be 2013 already.  I can’t be 24 years old already.  That’s almost a quarter of a century old.  Next thing I know, I’ll be screaming at strangers to talk into my good ear.

After my irrationality runs out of steam and just mutters to itself on background volume, I decide that this whole New Year thing isn’t so bad after all.  There is a bit of ritual to numb the fear of change.  Champagne!  Silly hats!  Annoying noise makers and watching fireworks!  Locking lips with that special (or not so special) someone with spiked punch breath!  I welcome you, new year, same as the old year.

Fireworks from Southwark Park, London

For Guy Fawkes day. But let’s pretend I took this photo at New Years, shall we?

Plus, New Year’s resolutions are fun to make, easy to break, and give me a sense of having control over my own destiny.

But in all seriousness, 2012 was a mixed year, as far as advancing the civilization status of humanity goes.  Gay rights were advanced with Obama, Biden, Hillary Clinton all making overtures of support for gay marriage, as well as the right to same sex marriage being passed by popular vote in two American states, a first in the US.  The UN finally acknowledged Palestinian claims to statehood, labelling it “an observer state.”  Attempts at voter suppression in the United States were largely defeated in courts, enabling more Americans to exercise their right to vote.  Paris Hilton didn’t star in any movies.  These are all good things.

But 2012 will also be remembered as the year of a shooting spree across America, culminating in the Sandy Hook shooting which ended the lives of 27 victims, plus the killer.  NRA activists and some politicians still refuse to admit that banning assault weapons and semi-automatics could have a drastic impact on reducing access to lethal guns, instead touting ‘bullet proof backpacks’ and a gun in every classroom as a way to keep children safe.  2012 was also the year of the ‘War on Women’ in America.  Sandra Fluke was called a “slut” and a “prostitute” on national radio by Rush Limbaugh after she spoke to Congressional Democrats about contraception issues.  Virginia’s governor tried to pass a mandatory invasive transvaginal ultrasound before women would be allowed to receive an abortion in that state.  And let’s not forget Todd Akin’s now infamous comment about ‘legitimate’ rape victims.  The war on drugs is still costing Americans about 20 billion dollars per year, while doing almost nothing to lower drug addiction rates in the US.  The conflict in Syria continues to worsen, with approximately 414,838 Syrians having fled their homes and now living as refugees, and 40,000 Syrians killed, as of late November 2012.

These are sobering facts to consider.  We live in the future.  Despite the notable lack of flying cars, our technology, our health care capabilities, our ability to travel beyond the speed of sound, our social media flooded blogosphere- we live in a time only imagined by the science fiction writers of the twentieth century.  It seems strange to me that with all the wonder and progress that human beings have made in this world, that there is still such pain, petty issues turning into politics, senseless death, stupid laws being enacted and an inability to see beyond nationalistic self interest.  Maybe the reason that January 1st always seems unwelcome is because I don’t want to be reminded that I am living in a 21st century with such contradictions of beauty and ugliness. The black and white delineation of one year’s passage to the next hardly fits with the gray scale happenings that occur between.

In Hyde Park

See? She is resolving to feed starving geese.

If the world were a perfect place, there would be no need for New Year’s resolutions.  As the world is, I encourage everyone to outline several goals for the New Year.  Yeah, yeah, you can still make those worn thin resolutions to lose ten pounds, write an American best seller, and meet a nice man who knows how to cook.  But along with those resolutions, choose to be an active force for good in this world.  Be honest with yourself, with others.  Give to charity when you can, volunteer, protest when your rights are infringed, get outraged when you need to get outraged.  Treat others the way you want to be treated, tip generously, smile at passerby.  Love as deeply as you can, admit mistakes when you make them, be there for your friends and family, strive to grow into that better person you know you one day will be.

Happy 2013 everyone.  May we see the best of ourselves and of the world this year.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. viewfromthewindowseat permalink
    January 2, 2013 11:46 AM

    love this; may we all indeed strive to grow ino the better person we’d like to be and see the best of ourselves and the world. xo, moi

  2. TFTM permalink
    January 14, 2013 8:11 PM

    Thoughts From The Middle Seat, I’m glad to see you’re back. I do enjoy reading your posts. Since your last post appeared to be from the Middle East and considering the problems they’re having over there, I had visions that you had fallen victim to some sort of Islamic Jihad or something.

    Celebrating the New Year has never been very high on my list of priorities. Other than nostalgically remembering a few New Year’s celebrations spent with my grandmother watching Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, I usually fall asleep on the couch before 9:00. I don’t wake up on the first day of the new year contemplating the deep philosophical questions of our time. Instead, I awake asking out loud, “What happened to last summer and did I have good time?”

    Life has a way of slipping by unnoticed until we contemplate our age. You wonder how you could really be 24? I wonder how I could really be 53! Even though my hearing hasn’t failed yet, I find myself screaming at strangers to yell into my good ear anyway. I do it just to be irritating.

    I was somewhat surprised that you swerved your car onto the sidewalk of political commentary. In the few posts I’ve read, you’ve never overtly jumped into that frying pan, although, because of your self-professed Manhattan Sensibilities, I was not surprised by your political positions. But, “above all else, disenchanted?” Twenty four and disenchanted? Heck, every day I wake up standing on this side of the lawn is enchanting!

    Anyway, keep up the great writing. Through your words, I experience the sights and sounds of exotic places that I’ll probably never visit. Heck, I ain’t never even gunna go to Canada…it’s full o’ them thar foreigners who talk funny!

    I pray that each of us has an amazing 2013!

    TFTM

    • January 15, 2013 4:42 AM

      Thank you for this lovely response! Reading comments like this one really encourages me to keep on writing. Yes, I usually try to stay away from political commentary, as my blog is ostensibly about people- and discussions about humanity and politics often don’t mix well. That said, when I was reviewing 2012 in my head, the only things I found myself proud of/enraged by in my head were of a political cant. Oops.

      No, I safely made it back from the Middle East physically intact. The reason I stopped writing for six months is that one of my posts was a bit… controversial. I received a surprising amount of hate mail for it, and I have to confess, I was shaken. As I get older and truly disenchanted- instead of simply using the adjective as a rallying cry- I suppose I will be affected less by what others think of me.

      Thank you again for your comment, and happy New Year.

      • TFTM permalink
        January 15, 2013 8:05 PM

        Ummm, which one was controversial? I’m the controversial loud mouth, you’re just fun to read. Controversial? Wow…

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