Saturday, December 31, 2022

Goodbye 2022!

To paraphrase one of Queen Elizabeth II's most famous speeches: 2022 "is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure." 

Covid continues to batter our world and even my local community, where several of my colleagues have been sick this Christmas week. Yet our country increasingly behaves as if the danger were over, thereby making things even worse. Personally spared the worst thus far, I have nonetheless this year increasingly experienced the fragility, frailty, and infirmities of old age - among them, a chronically bad back and knees, an episode of gout, a fall, and a quickly growing cataract that has definitely made an impact on my vision and needs to be attended to in the new year. Meanwhile, I still haven't been back in Starbuck's in almost three years now and have only been to the movies or out to dinner a handful of times, things I really used to enjoy very much and frankly miss. Looking beyond my narrow little world, Britain's Queen Elizabeth died, an expected but nonetheless significant loss for her country, for the Commonwealth, and for public Christianity. Her grandson Harry and his wife Meghan seem to be enacting an updated version of the sad saga of Edward and Wallis, which inevitably reminds one of Karl Marx's famous observation about history repeating itself, "the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." Here in the U.S., however modest their majority, the Republicans regained control of the House, with all the potentially problematic consequences that portends, and Donald Trump is still running for president. On top of all of that, back in February Russia launched a terrifying war of aggression against Ukraine, which continues 10 months later to create massive civilian suffering throughout that heroic country.

On the other hand, the Ukrainians, for all they have endured, have been holding their own and may yet succeed in repelling the Russian aggressor. Their President, Volodymyr Zelensky, famous for saying (when offered aid to escape) "I need ammunition, not a ride," has provided a much appreciated (and recently largely lacking) model of heroic political leadership, and has unexpectedly come to symbolize a reinvigorated Western Alliance. Meanwhile here at home, the Democratic Congress and President Biden managed to pass some significant legislation (including on infrastructure and climate change), the January 6 Committee did a better-than-expected job highlighting the full horror of what happened on (and in the run-up to) January 6, 2021, and the much feared "red wave" never materialized on Election Day. In my personal life, I got my fifth covid shot, my senior-strength flu shot, and new windows in my room. Happily, I also was able to visit my beloved former parish at Easter, something which I hope to get to do again in 2023.  I got to see some of my NY-area cousins back in March, and I visited my sister and her family in California at Thanksgiving. Finally, I reconnected with an old friend from Princeton days, whom I hadn't seen in over 25 years. So not such a bad year in at least some important ways, after all!

Good or bad (and what year isn't ultimately some mixture of both?), 2022 is quickly coming to an end. Honestly, I am really ready to say good-bye to it.

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