Here we are on 1 January AD 2013. I hope that you all made merry and festive last night. Perhaps you did not stay up to midnight, but there is something about the end of the year which gives the opportunity to reflect and be grateful – sometimes we are just grateful that the previous year is over and consigned to the past. I celebrated the passing of 2o12 quietly but not without reflection and merriment. It was a fine new years celebration. I rarely turn on the television anymore on New Years Eve. The parade of mindless foolishness and frivolity chronicling all that is wrong with out culture is just too much and too depressing a way to bring in the new year. This year was no different. I flipped on the TV at 11:57 (I actually tried to turn it on earlier but had some issue figuring out the new receiver box.) I was able to watch the ball drop and celebrate with a midnight toast of champagne and kiss and then flip off the TV just in time before Mariah Carey could sing. Whew.
This morning I was greeted with two sad stories which for me well-document why historians will view 2012 as the tipping point for the decline and fall of the American Republic. First I read the story of our Congress’ so-called solution and aversion of the disaster of the “fiscal cliff” in a Washington Times article. Apparently, to solve the debt crisis of this nation we must add and estimated 330 billion more to the budget and additional taxes without any spending cuts as outlined by this Washington Post article. It would take libations of many a New Years Eve party to think that this is a solution. Perhaps our good congressmen would do better permanently under the influence? Maybe they were last night. Only 8 voted against the measure. Which take me to the second story I read in 2013.
The second article which greeted my first morning perusal of 2013 news was one of social note. The spectacle to which I refer is in addition to the normal spectacle of New Year’s idiocy and lewdness. This year of CNN ‘s guest host Kathy Griffin (apparently drunkenly) tried to kiss Anderson Cooper’s crotch on national television. Now I must say that watching the aged Dick Clark on New Years Eve repeatedly was painful but if this is the alternative, perhaps we need to clone him to bring him back. These two events presented in tandem this morning first brought me to disgust and despair because as a trained historian I see the path that my country is running down. It is a path unhinged from reality, where somehow one plus one is no longer two (or 16,422,067,535,546 + 300,000,000,000 = avoiding the fiscal cliff). It is also a country where spectacles of unmitigated vice and sin go unpunished, and are accepted and even embraced by the culture. We are a country perpetually detached from reality – both moral reality and financial reality. Our people are figuratively drunk in an ongoing new year’s eve party. “Benefits and freedom (read license) for all and none to pay!” is our rallying cry. This has happened before.
The Roman poet Juvenal wrote in a very similar time in AD 138 during the reign of emperor Hadrian. He wrote the following of his time and the people of his country.
“the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things-Bread and
Games!”(Juvenal, Satire 10)
“The people” of Juvenal’s time has become, We the people. He was referring to the Annona or “grain dole” and horse races. We the people have entitlements and bowl games. How very sad, indeed how humanity merely repeats itself without the intervention of God. The middling picture is depressing. But God holds the big picture in his hands.
“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as, a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning.”(Psalm 90:4-5)
and in him we hold the small picture of our own and our families in our hands. For 2013 let’s resolve to live contrary to such foolishness of our culture and humbly reveal the better way.