2022 rolled in as the elusive hands of time clicked into place, marking another trip around the sun. We crawled out of the soot, shook off the gritty remnants of a year gone by and exchanged our grievances for resolutions we had no intentions of keeping.
Although much of this past year felt like we were standing still, waiting for the perpetual ball to drop, we welcomed back a life moving forward as the world reopened. Our shared experience in the fragility of our own mortality somehow left our communities and our country evermore divided and seemingly on fire.
The politics of a free world came crashing into our lives, whether invited or not. Democracy; the land, the myth, the legend. The Great Experiment of our forefathers unraveling to the beat of journalistic sensationalism and the evolutionary human need to survive, and of course, be right.
Being right morphed into something no longer recognizable. It was no longer about truth and provable details as a world of 'alternate facts' became the petri dish of discourse and conspiracy. A mob mentality spun out of control, leading mankind down a dismal and burning path of consequence over integrity as people pledged their allegiance to a man, over their country. Disregarding the very flag that allowed them a choice, they coveted a golden idol as though the world they dreamt of were literally in his hands.
Over 1.1 million people in the United States died from COVID, and in true American tradition, the masses took to the airwaves to discredit a man who simply stated the facts. A scientist with nothing to gain and everything to lose relayed his expertise and like a bucket of water to a growing flame, it all went up in smoke.
Coming out of a pandemic hibernation felt more like climbing out of a cave, our eyes squinting as we struggled to see clearly. A collective celebration of survival and triumph would have to wait; after all there were more intensifying things in need of our attention.
Taking a giant step backward in time, the white-washing, mansplaining patriarchy and its supremacy flipped the vernacular of its supposed enemy and used it to justify the banning of books and the teaching of actual history simply because it did not fit their personal narratives. Snatching up the word 'woke' from black culture and using it as the blade to a sword designed to instill fear, aging white men and naïve millennials coddled it like a newborn. Bending and twisting its definition into something fictional, they raised it into an empirical threat, warning the masses that because of it whiteness was on the brink of extinction.
From supply chain issues to rising grocery costs to the unrelenting climb of oil prices, everyone scrambled to point the finger and blame anyone, except the real cause. Greed. A true American pastime, greed built this country and its powerhouse legacies. It continues to rule over Congress, political parties, corporate entities and even our neighbors.
We learned an election, like a single strike of a match, can conjure an unyielding blaze that will destroy everything in its path. Leaving the 'every man for himself' mentality to fester, down to the last dollar and the paper it's printed on, it becomes the fueling ember to the holy grail of survival.
The Supreme Court of the United States, once the respected and honored last word on the interpretation of our sacred Constitution, cast itself into the limelight of politics. Sailing across the bench and into the pockets of those in power, they tossed out precedents like breadcrumbs to an overgrown trail. Quoting the defender of marital exemption in cases of rape, the Supreme Court of the United States used the words of Chief Justice Matthew Hale, of the King's Bench, to justify stripping women of their autonomy. American women stood stunned at the border of equality watching our bodies again become the property of men as though the 1600's had somehow reemerged through a smoke-filled mirror.
The twenty-four-hour news cycle moving at the rapidity of quickly tapping fingers, even the speed of light cannot compete with an ever-changing gossip and rumor mill being dispersed through technology. Everyone's wrong, everyone's right, and everyone claims to be winning. Our failure to recognize that two wrongs never equal a right, no matter who benefits from it, has cloaked an entire country in an interminable wildfire.
The masses demand freedom while simultaneously sacrificing the same for others, like pawns on a chessboard. Each wielding and threatening free-will like it belongs to them, and them alone. Demanding less government, while supporting its interference into the lives of those deemed unworthy, becomes the juxtaposition of a more perfect union. Our collective right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness remains an oozing ulcer that continues to hold our world hostage and our planet tilted on its axis.
Yet in the ash, rising above the smoldering shrapnel of an invasion, we watch a tiny country stand united in its desire to remain a democracy. No one could have predicted an unlikely leader, freely elected by a people, would one day arm each of them and stand fervently beside them in the war-torn streets where their homes once stood. Together and steadfast they continue to sacrifice their very lives to keep hold of that very precious ideal that Americans have long taken for granted.
A combined allegiance to a country, to a flag, has long carved the messy details of a history steeped in righteousness and wickedness. The virtue of society resting concurrently and unsteadily on the shoulders of integrity and dishonesty. Whether or not the change it brings has been for the greater good or a greater power remains to be seen.
When you light the yule log and greet the new year ahead of us, may you remember all those before you and all those with you along this ever-winding road. And may we all wake in the morning to the warmth of family and find freedom still outside our front doors.