Hard to imagine 2023 with the same irreplaceable, mind-bending blessings as 2022

Whatever its unvarnished horror, 2022 looks to go down as marking baby steps in the right direction.

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The ending year, as my old Brooklyn uncle might have quipped, “cudda been verse, much verse.” Yet, in terms of gun violence, fundamentalist excesses (on abortion, birth control, gay rights, ignorance of history and cultural biases), police misconduct, and nutty right-wing mayhem, things could have been much better. Consider the joyful tidings, if not laugh-out-loud hilarity that Republicans, especially Trumpers, delivered—models of uninhibited poseurs full of unintended revelations—all spurring busy, if sluggish prosecutors to get their acts together. 

Never again will we enjoy exactly the same mixed blessings from the same deviants. That’s mainly because we will never have to relive 2022. Nor do we need another year to anticipate a minority party in treacherous waters. Though absent real ideological division, their ship of discord nears a shipwreck—without gaining any political traction in key states. So let’s enjoy the easy joys of simply finishing one calendar year number and, though slicing up indivisible time, start counting anew in January. 

Whatever its unvarnished horror, 2022 looks to go down as marking baby steps in the right direction. Thanks as usual to science (especially medical research, blunting the pandemic), to midterm voters (verifying the jaw-dropping descent of right-wing brainpower), to Joe Biden Democrats (showing government can work, even when crippled), and to the Select Jan. 6 Committee (the philosophic high point, validating evidence, logic, reason, morality, law and justice). 

Reluctant thanks to lessons learned the hard way from surprising sources: Trump (for displaying more unforced stupidity than even his worst critics blasted)’; Elon Musk (the poster child for corporate demolition when half-bright billionaires amass too much play money); Sam Bankman-Fried (exposing the NFT folly, amplified by old-fashioned fraud); and V. Putin (for re-aligning key alliances Trump had punctured while achieving the impossible—unifying a fractious Europe, if not the world, and overplaying imperial arrogance plus squandering countless  military recruits). 

Bravo that American democracy survived both serious and moronic attacks, that the Constitution was not revoked (however mangled by today’s high court), and that Republicans barely have a viable 2024 candidate. And if they did, he’d be ambushed when or if Trump goes third party, splitting the right between the wholly deranged vs. dishonest, greedy manipulators. Yes, a rejected Trump, even more tarnished in a year, will be more desperate, the perfect GOP bunker buster. 

More mundanely, think of the relief that tissue paper, hand sanitizers, food supplies and vaccines, if not pandemic treatments, are readily available. As disruptions fade, normalcy is crawling back, along with high-risk travel and hardly innocent, in-your-face action at bars, concerts and eateries. Want more positives?

1) The midterm came and went without riots, insurrections, bombings or mass murders—or no more “fraud” than claimed 2020 mayhem. Sane adults retrieved considerable power while brainless banshees were banished as irate centrists voted for America, reason and a stable future.

2) Voting rights and participation, despite widespread suppression, survived as well, and the finale reflected the majority (what an idea). Only one party stood with racists, women-haters, anti-Semites, mobs of armed militants and officials who confuse governance (or reality) with scurrilous, absurd, make-belief folly.

3) Overall, human rights abuse receded (except by Russia, China, etc.), yet America continues its unconscionable addiction to heart-breaking terrorism, both large (mass shootings, mob violence, punishing the poor and homeless) and small (police brutality, domestic violence, racial bigotry). Look, there are more lunatics on the loose because there are more of us on the loose. Do the math. Justice against the worst low-life predators (like Alex Jones, but also the Mar-a-Lago, tax rip-off and Terrorist-in-chief) moved along, an endorsement of revising civilization. 

4) Climate consciousness expanded, with real legislative actions here and abroad. But until alternative energy becomes cheaper and more convenient, plus oil and gas more expensive, transformation to sustainability is as slow as looming Trump indictments. Who’s taking bets on the tragic species race between much greater conservation/efficiencies and technological gains vs tens of millions facing the climate deluge? 

5) To the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” segment, health emergency quarantines diminished, though not because COVID is resolved. But only the brainy and boostered do well, and by the way no nuclear bombs cut into the population boom. Yeah! Another year passed without a Biblical Armageddon—though families mourning murdered children and Trump-vilified Georgia election workers would disagree. 

6) No getting around the terrifying war reminiscent of WWII Nazi bombing of London civilians, the failed, territoriality pointless Russian brutality in Ukraine. No thanks to Putin for winning the Screw-up of the Year Award, with crazed Trump a distant second in the fatality business. President Zelenskyy went from unpopular president to his country’s and the world’s champion. The U.S. left Afghanistan without starting a big new confrontation (thanks, Joe), but imperial powers, east and west are still at large and hunting. Without planetary bullies, who expands to fill in “the void”? 

7) No crushing meteor, nor alien force invaded the earth, though storm impacts worsened. Planetary air isn’t getting any cleaner but the pandemic slowed down resource depletion. For the five or six billion earthlings free from daily shortages of water, food, housing and medicine, the year went along well. The top billion lived rather comfortably unless you count anxiety, suicide, drug overdoses, and depression. The most aware aren’t quite sure why we deserve the good life, especially since thanking higher powers, as if they care, is obsolete. We all together lasted another year, no small blessing, though more divinely-ordained heart attacks against unequivocal evil-doers wouldn’t have hurt my feelings. 

8) America avoided more structural collapses (dams, bridges and high rises) than we merited, considering our national neglect. Earthquakes produced global fatalities (and a domestic bridge collapse), but scientists don’t yet blame such linked lurches to human development. That separation doesn’t apply to the arrested Italian bank robber who took hours to be rescued from a bank-related tunnel collapse of his own making. 

9) Politically, the U.S. (and others) enjoyed mentally stable leaders who never equate governance with preposterous lies, name-calling, or demonizing critics as “enemies.” Imagine. Nor does Biden brag he’s the best American president ever, “brilliant” or “clairvoyant” (knowing what the words mean). Biden Democrats made notable legislative gains, all improving living conditions, health and welfare, and greater marriage rights. Whether you like Biden or not, only the most churlish partisans underplay the shift from our worst, failure-laden president to a competent, so far above average chief who outperforms expectations.

10) Law and justice reigned as hundreds of Jan. 6 criminals were arrested, charged, and jailed for doomed insurrectionist madness. Many express regret, blaming Trump for criminal incitation, but they still endure jail (ironic to those allegedly seeking “more freedom”). Now they can read books explaining in simple terms that elections must have winners and losers, that know-nothing wishing won’t triumph. Finally, hats off to all my readers, especially those who understand what I write and why (entertainment, distraction, fun with words, satiric rhymes). Free speech, but not good sense, is honored by the tolerance for tedious, one-trick trolls 

Who knows, maybe 2023 will be better than 2022. Then, Armageddon aside, comes 2024, which may make 2022 look like the bad old days—honestly what it often felt like (despite my good news!). Salut, prosit, and a toast to life, L’chaim.

FALL FUNDRAISER

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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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