Saturday, December 31, 2011


Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana
in Reason in Common Sense

AT YEAR’S END, both print and broadcast media are replete with stories about Americans happy to bid a horrible year good bye. Poor job prospects, down economy, incessant wars, endless political bickering coupled with an election cycle that apparently has no end, and perhaps “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas” feed this sad mentality. Too bad, but this isn’t news. Every year, the media finds the disgruntled man-on-the-street and tells the same story come the end of December.

Why doesn’t the monologue change? Because the average Joe apparently doesn’t want to pick out the lessons of the most recent year gone by and learn from them.

Average Joe ought to be thanking 2011 for the lessons proffered like:

GRIDLOCK DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING. Those who voted for ideologically inflexible candidates can thank themselves for a Washington unable to do the work of government and move our country toward renewed prosperity. Amped up concerns about spiraling debt, matched with pledges to not raise taxes simply means the government cannot accomplish the tasks demanded by its people.

AMERICA DOES NOT ALWAYS NEED AN EVIL TO OPPOSE. Propping up our decade long war in the Middle East and Central Asia with false claims about Islamic theology only serves to anger the world community and drain our national treasury. In the name of security, we use fear and falsehoods to create insecurity abroad while folks at home drive across crumbling bridges and over leaky gas pipelines to communities that sacrifice police protection and public schooling in an effort to save tax dollars. Meanwhile, the average Muslim would like to get up in the morning and go to work without fear of getting blown to bits.

PEOPLE CAN ASSEMBLE PEACEFULLY TO EFFECT CHANGE. The Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement have shown this works. We should have learned that the quicker those in power respond positively to the message of those in the square, the more peacefully the change will evolve. Confronting protests with bullets, pepper spray, or worse, lies, only prolongs the conflict and proves to be antithetical to the democracy we claim to embrace.

MONEY DOES NOT BUY HAPPINESS. Once again, the New York Yankees, with the highest payroll in all of baseball, did not make it past the first round of the playoffs. (If I cared for the Yankees, I might shed a tear.)

Finally, CHEETAS NEVER PROSPER. No, that’s not a typo. Recently the chimp featured in the Tarzan movies of the 30s and 40s died at age 80 of kidney failure. The primate was never compensated in any way for being a better actor than Johnny Weissmuller and - to the eye of a seven-year-old sitting in the El Rey Theater on Second Street in Chico for so many Saturday afternoon matinees - nearly as cute as Maureen O’Sullivan. Nope. Cheeta never got paid.

THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN from a 2011 that sacrificed its good name in order to provide many, many, many teachable moments. 2012 will be a great year, but only if we heed the lessons of her predecessor.

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. Cheeta never got paid and Tarzan never got laid.

    I'm with you, I want the reporter on the street to interview someone who is gruntled.

    Happy New Year!