Most of the time when I think about the new year, my thoughts gravitate towards what I want to do, what plans I need to make, and how I somehow want to re-engineer my life in small and big ways. Not so much for 2022. If recent years have taught us anything, it’s that we are not always masters of our own destiny.
Like many, I think I am decidedly in the camp of “just get through it” when I think about 2022. “Get through it” as in trying to stay healthy and hope that others are able to do the same. That’s equal parts sad and realistic as we collectively stare down another year of COVID and the prospect that this disease may never really leave us, in spite of our best efforts.
Side note here: “…in spite of our best efforts” is a bit of a misnomer on many different levels. All you need to do is go into any store in most parts of Pennsylvania, for example, and you will see that “best efforts” when it comes to COVID are basically non-existent. Some folks simply stopped trying. Some folks never tried in the first place. Trying would include the highly difficult and complex tasks of wearing a mask in public, getting vaccinated, and avoiding large crowds. I was being sarcastic with that last sentence by the way, as none of those things are actually complex or difficult; rather they require compassion and thought, two things that tend to be in short supply among some stressed humans.
Looking at 2022, it’s pretty realistic for us to admit that our lives may be in a kind of holding pattern, waiting for something to give. As noted above though, this may never give. We may have to collectively change some fundamental things about what and how we do things. For some, that’s thought-provoking. For others, it is a nightmare. Squarely in the nightmare camp are all of those individuals who already have been put in a state of dismay because of changing national (and world) demographics and culture. I can easily see why, for example, someone who feels that two men who love each other and want to get married are somehow a threat to them also views wearing a mask in a grocery store as some form of capitulation to Satan. These are the same people who parrot anti-vaccine rhetoric from some dark corner of the Internet but then are in shock and distraught when a loved one spends 30+ days in a hospital, clinging to life via a ventilator. As noted in the prior paragraph, sometimes compassion and thought are scarce qualities.
It’s worth remembering that every generation is full of people who want to deny change, who want to “go back to the way it was”. We have an entire region of the country that, for more than 150 years, tried to deny the outcome of the American Civil War. These days are different though, as we have social media with a global reach, so the most ridiculous voices among us have basically the same megaphone as the most rational. This is the world that has given us Alex Jones, and we are much worse for it. The challenge of 2022 is whether or not the loudest voices belong to the compassionate or the compassionless. The added burden here is the fact that the compassionless are sometimes adept at painting villains as heroes, empathy as a sin, facts as fiction, and TV reality. This includes every single televangelist who spreads an America-first prosperity “gospel”.
Getting back to me, (well, technically we never left me), I do have some goals, but they are a bit down the road. COVID or not, I want to get through the year, maybe pick up a few better habits, and not manage to screw anything up in the process. Finding some peace at work would be nice too. Not repeating any mistakes would be a plus. Five or six years down the road there will be some more monumental changes, so 2022 can be just okay. And sometimes “just okay” is good enough. My standards may be low, but these are challenging times.
Here’s to everyone having a happy and (hopefully healthy) New Year.