Dear Father Time:
This is the end of the first decade of our new century. That which began with such promise (the new millennium!) has spiraled into a disaster. Good riddance to the past decade. Here are my resolutions for all of us collectively in the first year of the coming decade.
1) Can’t we all just get along? Yes, and let’s choose to.
The country is rapidly becoming ungovernable—a macrocosm of the California collapse. We can be an entrepreneurial and welcoming people who judge our neighbors not by class or birth but by their actions. That sentiment is a powerful part of American iconography. It is why school children study Martin Luther King’s speech. It is why we celebrate the symbolism in the presidency of Barack Obama.
There is a certain guilty pleasure in listening to an uninformed, fatuous buffoon flap against the people or policies with which we disagree. In times of plenitude, perhaps it is only amusement. But when economic times get tough, as they have been, it is all too easy to demonize the “other,” and there are those who, for self-aggrandizement, are all too eager to tell us who the “others” are: Mexican immigrants, the Chinese, the Socialists, and, that old standby, the international banking conspiracy. We should resolve to refrain from all of this demonizing in the coming year and insist on only civil discourse.
2) Let’s study history.
A virtue and vice of having the Reds around? We could be talked into almost anything if they were against it. During the Cold War, and because the Russians were on the other side, we intervened in civil wars, supported undemocratic governments, and propped up vile dictatorships around the world. The Russians, of course, did the same—for example, invading Afghanistan. In the year ahead, we should quit repeating these mistakes and learn to be better students of history.
3) We’ll all have health care.
This will be the year when we embark as a nation on a reorganization of our health care delivery system. Some will tell us that this represents a victory for the Kremlin (or its secret allies). In addition, many expensive and inefficient compromises are bound to be struck to make the gears of government mesh. But three aspects of reform are critical to preserve if we are to achieve anything of value.