Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Welcome to 2020.
Human nature, in my humble opinion, makes it natural on the first day of a new year to reflect on the previous, and ponder the new. Some might say that only human beings have the capacity to be aware of their own mortality I believe it is sheer arrogance that makes people say this. Anybody who has seen how elephants show reverence to the skeletal remains of their own kind or how dogs grieve at the passing of their humans would be hard-pressed to argue that at least some animals don’t have an understanding of death, and with that there must be at least some rudimentary understanding of their own mortality even if it is nothing more than the knowledge that they, too, can die. It is very possible that ours is the only species that understand timelines, and I would find it hard to believe that other species define a “start” and “stop” to each year, although, maybe. After all, they must understand the coming and going of seasons, so maybe they do think about it. Squirrels know when to hide away resources for the upcoming winter, so, maybe.
It’s an intriguing line of thought, don’t you think?
But the point of this post is not to ponder whether or not animals understand time and mortality, but rather, to discuss the upcoming year, and my hopes for it. I’ve lost too much, suffered for too long to make wishes for myself. The time I’ve spent alone makes it impossible to honestly believe that anybody could actually love and want to be with me. I’ve lost too much to honestly believe I can get what I want. I’ve been betrayed too often to believe that, even if I did manage to get what I wanted, it wouldn’t be taken away again by somebody else. No, this isn’t about my wishes for myself. It’s about my wishes for everybody else.
The past year has been a hard one. Divisions in our society have grown to chasms that seem to be approaching a point of irreparable. Our president was shamefully impeached, only the third in the history of the US and the first to be so in his first term. The economic divides between the super wealthy and the rest of us have grown to levels that are probably unsustainable. Racial tensions seem to be the highest in decades. International tensions between the United States and our allies, trade partners and even hostile nations are increasing. Voter suppression and international interference with free elections is dangerously high. Politically immoral acts like imprisoning those seeking refuge and separating children from parents is tarnishing the world view of the US.
My wish for 2020 is love, understanding and tolerance. These are broad stroke wishes, and for a reason. I believe that if people think more broadly in these terms, maybe, just maybe, it will break us out of the micro managerial thinking that has lead to the mess that we are in. If people think in these terms, instead of specifics of, for example, what party they belong to or the propaganda that we hear, maybe we can start moving in a healthier direction. Maybe we’ll make mistakes along the way, but these mistakes should be much smaller than those we are currently making.
If we think in terms of love, then we question decisions such as separating children from parents whose crime is to try to protect their families. If we think in terms of understanding, then maybe we can envision a young woman walking through protesters for an infertility examination. If we think in terms of tolerance, then we might be able to put ourselves in the shoes of those who are being disenfranchised in their voice by voting suppression.
The truth, and the short version, is that our wounded nation needs to heal. There is far too much propaganda, and we have segregated ourselves as if we are rooting for our favorite sports team; Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. This segregation only serves those in power, to keep us as a nation separated and with a fractured voice. What would happen, do you suppose, if we all called out in a single voice for a flat taxation rate, for example? No matter your tax bracket, no matter where you store your money, as an American, for every dollar you make, you owe fifteen cents (or twenty or ten or whatever it could reasonably be). Suddenly, everybody pays the same tax rate. Instead, we have the newest tax law that gave “everybody” tax breaks and yet somehow seemed to favor the wealthy, and as many Americans were falling for the propaganda they seemed to miss the part where in 2021, these tax breaks will expire for 95% of the Americans. The only people that will keep their tax breaks after 2021 (without further legislation) will be the top five percent. This is fractioning of the American people.