Itís tough not to look back at the past year and feel a sense of pride. Not for what was accomplished, but for what was survived. If the best thing that can be said is that things could be worse, well, Iíll take that over some of the alternatives. Things could definitely be worse, and might get worse, but at least we donít live in Siberia. Or in 1862. Although sometimes it seems like weíre in the midst of a little bit of both.
Things could be worse, but things can still get better. Sure, maybe the government is run as a constant tug-of-war between the crooks and the incompetent, but as long as the fabric of society doesnít snap one way or the other, we still have a shot at getting to that utopian balance where the Prime Directive applies to our own life and our own civilization. Some day, ďfirst do no harmĒ wonít just be for doctors any more.
If Tiger Woods turned out to be the only hero with feet of clay, weíd be in a better position to judge him. Instead, he just reminds us to look a little deeper before we canonize someone. Even the saints were sinners first, as Iím sure I learned somewhere, probably from a nun who knew what she was talking about. I crossed paths with a few of that ilk in my distant youth.
The year 2009 will forever be the Year of Balloon Boy. A shiny object captures our attention, and we stop everything to stare at it for awhile. We feel fear and compassion for one helpless child in danger. As soon as we find out junior was hiding in the attic the whole time, we go on about our business of being cynical about the ways of the world, protecting ourselves from those feelings. Well, fear is still okay, but compassion had better be held pretty close and saved for a real victim. There are plenty of those around (including, if you think about it, junior himself).
And fear should be saved, too, for the real threats. Itís just that itís become nearly impossible to identify what the real threats are. I mean, besides the guy with explosives in his shorts. That one should be easy, if you happen to be looking for him. We have people in charge of that operation, so we can save our fear for something else, canít we?
Like, say, the Boogie Man. Iíve been hearing about him since I was a kid, so Iím pretty sure I have his number by now. And, surprise! He isnít the guy who does the talking. Heís the one who listens, without thinking. Thatís what Iím afraid of, as we attempt to transcend 2009 and move beyond the World As We Know It and into the Great Unknown Future, where all the answers actually exist. We might not find them, but theyíre there.