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Chatterbox: Where beauty and burden meet


Well, it’s 2020 … a year I’ve been so anxiously awaiting, I actually misdated some Christmas cards. It’s a great number, nice and simple: two 2s and two zeroes – “twenty,” twice. I have been waiting with great hope for this year, and I can’t possibly be the only one.

In its visual and verbal simplicity and carrying a presidential election, 2020 stands out as one during which critical decisions will be made. Given the nature of all that is already teetering on the proverbial fence, it would be crucial even without the election, so we’d be best off keeping our wits about us, and our eyes and ears open, not to mention our minds. None of us should believe that anything in our wonderful nation – which is in a major crisis – is a fait accompli.

Some of us are old enough to remember evening news before it could be manipulated and artificially flavored, or the day Kennedy was assassinated, yet young enough to still care about the cost of college, job availability, and schoolyard bullying. Still, many of us are hitting that place in life whereat we could just run away to the coast of Sicily, leave all our impediments behind, and fulfill our own personal selves. Our children can carry the torch … they aren’t kids anymore. They can handle it and we could just sip an Aperol spritz and wait for aperitivi on the Mediterranean.

No. Anyone who loves what America was promised to become and what she should be by now, can’t run. We stand and work and fight to save the soul of a nation gone off-kilter. Hey, even the Pope lost his temper last week; so, some of America has strayed … she’ll be back. Her true heart, her real people, haven’t gone anywhere but, like anything derailed, it will take dedication, tenacity, sacrifice, time, daring and hard choices to reclaim what we have lost.

While we work, I am wishing for each and all of us a new year that will be filled with: hunger – not a lot but just enough for each of us to never forget the hungry of the world, indeed, the hungry among us in America; angst – just enough that none of us forgets the innocent people who struggle to survive in the war-torn nations of the world; thirst – just enough that we never forget our own citizens in Flint, who are still without pure water on tap and are still waiting for relief; a yearning to see our loved ones – enough so that we recollect children left alone, permanently scarred, and consoled only by one another in American concentration camps; fear – enough for all of us to love and to understand all those who don’t know a peaceful walk down a public street without apprehension; a moment of abandonment – that we can become aware, understand, and feel empathy for those abandoned, helpless, or incarcerated; and, finally, repeated moments of rescue, exhilaration, camaraderie, and inclusion– to bring us each a renewed awareness of and for the brotherhood that should define America.

There have been slow and steady changes over the face of our planet, evidenced by floods, fires, and climate activities. Perhaps not unprecedented, but the timing and some magnitudes are incongruent with climate history. We are also witnessing increased tension and mistrust among some world leaders, as well as by world citizens, including us here at home. Again, perhaps not unprecedented, but much of the communication between world leaders and the moderating of some precarious international situations seems to have eroded. Hopefully, these anomalies will be the impetus for world leaders and citizens to strive toward common goals and the common good, America’s among them.

For many, America was once the flagship of such goals. In the hopes of the displaced, America was a nation whose promise was framed with an intent of compassion and, maybe, one day, even freedom and justice – for all. It seems we have lost sight of that goal. This year is one of critical choices, hard work, great promise, monumental possibility, renewal, and great hope for a patchwork quilt that delivers what only a patchwork can. This year, we must vocalize about, and work and vote for, a goal common to all of us across the board.

Here’s to 2020, a year for which its very name, audibly and visually, reflects balance, symmetry and equilibrium. Here’s to whatever it takes to achieve that goal around the world but also, here in America, for that is one beyond argument from any prudent political view.