Here’s my wish for a Happy New Year

I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions simply because I seldom keep them. The idea of setting a goal to commence on that arbitrary day doesn’t work for me — especially if I burn down the evening before partying like it’s 1999, and I wind up wearing a lampshade or two on my head as I gleefully hopak the night away in front of the Christmas tree only to wake all groggy-eyed on New Year’s Day in a face-to-face confrontation with a massive change I have to make in my life staring back at me with creepy anticipation from the edge of my crumpled pillow before I even get to enjoy my first sip of morning Joe. I hate it when that happens, and I sadly discover I’ve just set myself up for failure again. Nyet! Nine! No! Are you kidding me?

Still, I guess we human beings have been celebrating this silly New Year’s thing and making and breaking our desperate resolutions ever since the very moment after we realized there actually was such a thing as a new year, and some demented fool who could only rise from his stupor to a squat urgently yelled out from a darkened corner of the room, “Say, baby, do ya wanna hopak?” Da! Ja! Si! Are you kidding me?

Seriously, though, the state of our nation and the world concerns me on the cusp of this new year. I certainly don’t want to find myself, those I love and all the rest of us at the bottom of some festering heap because we can’t get along. That would be pretty darn dumb, in my humble opinion. A horrible waste.

Anyone with open eyes must recognize we have many bridges and fences to mend in our own country and around the world.

When I was an angry young man more than half a lifetime ago, I couldn’t understand those who didn’t agree with me. My world was literally black and white. I was right, they were wrong, and that was that. The issues were so very simple to figure out back then.  Unfortunately, I’ve realized life is much more complex than that. Left or right, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican — those are simply labels designed to push us apart, and today it seems so many of us have drawn so many hard and fast lines in the sand that now disapproval, name calling and disrespect reign. With each passing day it seems these divisions drive more and more us to the lunatic fringe on both sides. That saddens me. The truth is neither the left nor the right can save us because those brands simply keep us from having the real conversations we need to have.

Nope, no resolutions this time, but a wish instead. My wish for our new year is that we all find a way to leave the petty chants, the bombastic cheers and the head dropping rhetoric of shallow, banal, bumper sticker ideology behind us and come together to create a place that will work for all us in our already great, powerful and prosperous land. I hope you’ll pause to take a deep breath, look around and see what you can do right here in Susanville to make our little corner of the world a better place.

And finally, many thanks to my Finnish friends — Timo, Simo and Dimo — who introduced me to the joys of hopak one New Year’s Eve celebration so many years ago. Sadly, that apartment floor will never be the same. Luckily, the landlord never figured out I was the one to blame.

Happy New Year everybody!