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  • Jan Flynn

A New Year’s Invitation I’ll Decline

Out with the old, in with the new. And you know what has gotten really, really old in the past year or two or three?

Division. And I don’t mean the arithmetic kind.

Our leadership, or whoever is running things in the USA these days, is evidently determined to drive a wedge between every “us” and “them” discernible: liberals vs. conservatives; religious vs. secular; fact-based vs. faith-based; watchers of Fox News vs. of CNN; rich vs. poor and the dwindling middle. And so on, and on. Whether it’s targeted posts on Facebook or shouting heads on the 24-hour news channels, we are continually goaded toward outrage and its close cousin, blame. We sputter at the dangerous stupidity of those who see things differently than we do. It makes all of us touchy. Even gatherings among friends and neighbors have become fraught with the potential for conflict at the drop of an opinion.

I’m so tired of it. Chronic anger isn’t good for anybody, and I don’t see it solving any problems either. I’m sick of being manipulated into unease, whether by Russian trolls or those politicians who thrive on discord and who are entirely unburdened by any sense of shame. I’m not playing anymore.

This doesn’t mean that in 2019 I’m going to stop standing up for what I believe in. There is much that I care about deeply that is under threat, from the environment to human rights to the rule of law. But I will decline any invitation to be drawn into pointless argument. I will walk right past the barking culture-war mongers who insist that I define myself in ever narrowing terms, based on the ever increasing gulf between me and anybody who is not in the same hardened little ideological camp I’ve grown used to defending.

It must benefit someone to herd us into easily manipulated factions, but it sure isn’t me. So for 2019, I resolve to search out what unites us rather than what divides us. Things like how we all want to be safe and how we all hope for a decent chance for our kids. How we all savor a good meal or a beautiful day. And how deeply most of us wish things were less rancorous and far more civil.

Whatever else happens in 2019, the year will soon be force-marching us toward another election cycle. As much as I dread the whole mad circus starting up

again, I see a glimmer of hope. Because I’m willing to bet that I’m not alone in my weariness of acrimony, and that many of us have had it with all the shouting. We’re ready to find what we agree on and relax a little bit about our differences. And I’m betting that the candidates who can connect with that desire, who can bring us together instead of driving us apart, will tap into a deep well of support.

What do you hope for as the new year dawns? With a toast to your wildest dreams, I wish you all the best in this next trip around the sun.

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