31 December 2016

Goodbye 2016, You Sucked

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, their deaths capped off a terrible year.

"Sometimes everything seems just like a dream. It's not my dream, it's somebody else's. But I have to participate in it. How do you think someone who dreams about us would feel when he wakes up. Feeling ashamed?" - From Ingmar Bergman's Shame (1968).

"Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love! "

The above was tweeted earlier today by the US president elect. I think it sums the “man” up rather well. He is utterly lacking in any class or grace. Never mind the fact that he brings to the highest office in the land not a shred of understanding for his position nor any empathy for the people he was “elected” to serve. His presidency — however long it may last — could prove to be the undoing of the United States. Democracy as we know it is in grave danger. Corporations will be unregulated to such an extent that they will attain unimaginable profits while the poor plunge even further into poverty. Capitalism was an interesting idea but it is clearly an out of control monster that devours everything in its path and must be under the strictest of controls.

He is liar. A cad. A cheat. A hypocrite. A narcissist. He lacks ethics, morals or values. He is an inspiration to racists everywhere. Not to mention sexists, idiots and the lowest form of life and conservative evangelicals who have perfected the art of hypocrisy to an extent that even the president elect can only aspire to.

So will begin 2017. A year that — difficult as it may be to imagine — might be worse that 2016.

So there’s that. There’s also something else troubling: the social fascism of millennials. Recently Steve Martin tweeted about the death of Carrie Fisher “When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” He was lambasted for being sexist because he had the gall to point out her beauty and list it ahead of her other attributes. Martin deleted the tweet. Outrage is easy. Manufacturing outrage is easy. In today’s world with comments, opinion, sentiments and just plain old sentences flying about social media, finding some silly thing to get riled about is a particularly simple matter.

People with common sense came forward and defended Martin and raged at the raged. As one person commented: “I’m so tired of all this binary thinking and heartless self righteous anger….” Exactly. You can’t use these words. You can say anything about these or those people. These people can’t make jokes about those people. You shouldn’t say that or even think this. Increasingly we are seeing — from the left, mind you — strictures on free speech that will mute social commentary, dialogue, humor, expressions of grief and truth telling. Words and expressions are being taken away. Thin skinned self righteous millennials are particularly guilty of moral indignation and consequent hissy fits anytime someone steps over a line that none of us knew even existed. Somewhere Cotton Mather is smiling.

All is not bleak. It just feels that way. This feeling, of course, stems from horrible national and international events but is worsened by the losses of still more deaths of beloved celebrites, the aforementioned Ms. Fisher and then her mom, Debbie Reynolds are only the latest in a long line who have died these past 12 months. No word on whether anyone born this year is capable of filling the void.

But I look forward to the coming year. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said. (We could sure use his like today.). I hope he’s right. It is worth noting that the world is in many respects a safer, cleaner place than it ever has been. In more and more countries women are gaining more rights and protections as are gays, children, the elderly, the handicapped and other minorities. However, there is — as we have seen in the US — blowback with the rise of racist national groups and xenophobia, but that is inevitable. Hopefully we shall overcome. It has happened. Pessimism gains no one anything, other than an excuse to sit out the struggle. And struggle we need.

There is music, there is art, there is literature, there is film, there are still some uncorrupted sports competitions. There are parks, forests, beaches and other natural wonders. There is instant communication and air travel. There is scientific progress. There are advances in medicine. There is love. There is hope. And I don’t mean Bob.

So what's next? How about this? "Whatever happens, it's time to bury neoliberalism. We need genuine wealth + power redistribution. Only a real left can fight fascism." - Naomi Klein

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