Alan Zendell, December 30, 2017
Civility – That’s the motto of the county I live in. You see it everywhere, on bumper stickers, lawn signs, government letterheads: “CHOOSE CIVILITY.” It sounds corny, almost naïve, but it works. While my state is traditionally blue, my suburban/rural county is as purple as it can be. So the quest for civility isn’t a red or blue thing, it’s the voice of the community.
We aren’t merely tolerant here, we thrive on our diversity. Immigrants from all over the world make up almost a quarter of our population, and our very purple county has designated itself a place of sanctuary. We have dozens of Christian churches of every denomination, more than ten synagogues, a mosque, two Hindu temples, a variety of interfaith centers, and large number of people who choose not to affiliate with any organized religion. We all get along and live in harmony despite our differences. I hope we see more of that next year.
Just Desserts – 2017 has been a very upside down year when lies became the norm and outrageous behavior was applauded by far too many. Too many deserving people were ignored while many of the worst were rewarded. I hope next year sees people all getting exactly what they deserve. Let’s make sure everyone gets the credit they’re entitled to for everything they do next year.
More Voices – 2017 saw what I hope was the beginning of the re-awakening of the silent majority. There was far too much noise at both extremes; at times it was so deafening we tried to tune it out. While the president was picking fights on Twitter, crowds were demonstrating against the police, and the Alt-Right attempted to re-assert white supremacy, there was a danger that those were the only voices that would be heard.
But once again, the strength of our system began to re-assert itself. After the shock of Charlottesville, thousands who had been silent while the neo-Nazis terrorized that city spoke up loud and clear when they tried the same thing in Boston. There was no violence and very little noise, but their quiet strength spoke louder than those hate-filled Nazi chants.
And those silent voices were even louder in the privacy of the voting booths in several states. The voices of change, quietly crying out for decency and an end to the extremism that Trump stokes every day, won out in Virginia, Washington State, and most importantly, in Alabama.
Less Violence – Have we forgotten so quickly? Las Vegas was only the latest example of what happens when there are no controls on the havoc the worst of us can cause. Responsible gun owners are not the problem. We all know what it is, and even some very conservative Republicans talked about a new law outlawing assault-style weapons after Las Vegas. But where have those voices of reason gone? Has anyone heard a word from them lately? I hope 2018 will be a year in which sanity begins to reign again.
More Diplomacy – While the president’s tough guy act scores a lot of points with much of his dwindling base, the great majority of Americans spent 2017 cringing under his Tweetstorm attacks on foreign leaders. It doesn’t matter whose side you’re on, common sense and centuries of recent history prove that diplomacy is more likely to lead to peaceful settlements of disputes than threats and bluster. We probably can’t stop Trump from impulsively tweeting every angry thought he has, but maybe that silent majority can address them the way they did extremism. Because I have faith in our system and our way of life, I have to believe that if more people spoke in opposition to aggressive, harassing behavior and demanded that our president conduct himself appropriately, they might not silence him but they might well drown him out.
More Puppies – Donald Trump, among his many unpleasant qualities has a well-known dislike for dogs. Earlier this year at Mar-a-Lago, the philanthropist Lois Pope presented him with “the perfect puppy,” the golden doodle Patton. The idea was to help soften his image if not the man himself, but Trump rejected both the gift and the idea. Many articles have been written about why Trump is the first president in more than a century to not own a dog, whether out of love or just for its PR value, but I don’t think it’s very complicated, and it says more about him than anything I could write.
Dogs are forthright, loyal, and loving. They give back what they receive in full measure, they don’t lie or cheat or deceive. What can we infer about a president who has no room for that in his life? More to the point, what sort of man would reject this?
My fondest wish for 2018 is for all the puppies in the world, especially those who are sick or injured, to be happy and healthy so they can continue to love the people who love them.