January 1, 2015

Are we done yet?

Are the holidays over? Is 2014 over? Good. I'm happy to say goodbye to both.

The internet is filled today with blog posts and news stories about how awful last year was. "Good riddance" seems to be the mantra. But though I'm happy to see it gone, I don't think 2014 was awful. Sure, ugly people continued to do ugly things; that's what they do. But I'm pleased that the issue of racism in America has come to a head. If it hadn't happened now, when would we deal with it? Ten years from now? Fifty? The time for change is right now. And for this, I am thankful.

Something tells me the protests against police abuse will continue -- as will the police murders of innocent people of color. But soon we'll reach a breaking point, a moment when real change seems necessary to all observers. Of course, the trend could turn negative and go in the other direction -- in which our country would be lost, probably forever. But I don't hold Americans in such low contempt. Decent people will not let this issue go. It's time for change and Americans of all colors will demand it.

So I'm hopeful about the coming year. It will be incredibly tiresome, in that Hillary and all the other exhausted practitioners of old-style politics will be positioning themselves for election, and saying and doing stupid, meaningless things. But hey, that's the way we roll in this country. Nothing in politics has to make sense anymore. The Republicans (and lilly-livered know-nothing "Democrats") made sure of this. Common sense is now a rare visitor to our Congress and Supreme Court.

But something else is happening: the American populace is waking up. Gays are getting married all over the place. Transgender people are finally seeing their stories enter the mainstream. Black people are not taking it when police try to rough them up or abuse them in any way. Religion is losing its hold on young people. And longtime immigrants in this country are finally being shepherded into citizenship. And hey, just about anyone can get health insurance.

Will something go wildly wrong this year? Probably. Putin is feeling intense pressure and he would love an excuse to play with his nukes. China is trying to shut the internet (and communication in general), much to the consternation of its people. And of course, Israel is still being Israel, and Muslim extremists are still killing everyone they meet. There are so many situations that could ignite.

But human rights are finally coming to the fore. The whole world now knows that the United States tortures people, lies, snoops, employs a militarized police force largely composed of white racists, and starts spurious wars for monetary gain. This means it won't only be American citizens who push for a return to the rule of law in the US; there will be many other countries insisting that we right the human "wrongs" that everyone can clearly see. With everything that's going on, even the Bush/Cheney in-crowd is probably feeling nervous. International Court, anyone? It's time the US was hauled before that body.

These are interesting times where just about anything could happen. But I'm hopeful. How about you?

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