December 21st, 2020
This Solstice piece, like all the others I’ve written over the past twenty years, will deal with hope, always a central theme of the Solstice. But it’s going to be a darn sight easier to write than it might have been six weeks ago, when the outlook was still unremittingly bleak. However, now we see a map to the end of the pandemic, and the end of Trump.
I think it must have felt a lot like this in the autumn of 1944, when it became clear the allies were on their way to victory both in Europe and in the Pacific. There was still a hard slog ahead, and a heavy price to be paid before the final victory, but at least victory was in sight, and the future a lot brighter.
Hope isn’t hard to come by in this dark winter. We have a vaccine. We’ve had an election. Both represent turning points, arresting a dangerous plunge to mass death and horror.
We’re not out of the woods yet, of course. It may be several months before many of us get shots, and at least six weeks before we start seeing the terrifying wave of COVID cases finally begin to break. Even with the shots, a half million people in the US alone will be dead, and millions more—perhaps tens of millions—facing a life of permanent and sometimes crippling medical problems.
I won’t relax about Donald Trump until he is out of the White House and facing trial for his many crimes. The votes have been counted and recounted, the courts have ruled dozens of times, and the few remaining sane Republicans have agreed—Biden won by a huge margin, and Trump needs to leave.
And yet Trump apparently believes he did win, as do his followers—the more ignorant ones, to be sure. He’s ordered the Pentagon not to give Biden any briefings even as the country grapples with the worst security leak in its history.
It’s quite possible that Russia controls our nuclear weapons right now, and there is a suspicion that Trump is complicit, either proactively (setting it up to happen) or reactively (knowing it happened, and doing nothing about it.) Perhaps both. In addition to his deep corruption, cruelty and incompetence, it seems likely that Trump is a gleeful traitor, destroying the country that made him possible, for tawdry profit. He’s even trying to suggest it was China on behalf of his Russian master.
There are fears generated by this despicable man, fears that living Americans have never experienced before. There’s a small but finite possibility that by this time next year, we could be in camps, or fighting for our lives and freedoms in a contrecoup. It’s been 150 years since such thoughts have been anything other than paranoid drivel, and I would love it if I read this a year from now and think of my words, “Jesus. Cut back on the coffee, man!”
What I expect to see, a month from now, is Joe Biden taking office and working hard to be a wise and just president, facing down the daunting problems left by his predecessor. I hope to see the daily count of new cases dropping day by day, and hospitals regaining the ability to handle the influx of sick and dying.
2021 will be a year of recovery. The deliberate cruelties and viciousness of the Trump regime will be reversed, and wanton executions, desecration of national parks and selling of our children and our sick to for-profit entities will abate. We will regain control of our compromised cybernet infrastructure. Eventually we might enter stores, attend parties, hug friends and family without fear of it being a death sentence. The strutting Nazis who make up outfits such as the Proud Boys will be cowering under their rocks, licking their wounds and planning for the next time society is sick enough for their opportunistic moral sickness. The vile acronyms of the Republican Party, MAGA, 6MWE, perhaps even GOP itself, will be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with other such loathsome utterances as “Got Mitt Uns” and “The People and Party are One!”
We’ll always have conspiracy theorists, of course, but by this time next year they may be back in their accustomed position of providing amusement and some puzzlement.
People are free to believe whatever damnfool notions they want, as the saying goes. But they aren’t free to make it public policy.
Chemtrails? Moon Landing Hoax? Poison Vaccines? No such thing as COVID? Your opinions, your right. You can even hold public office with nutball beliefs like those, like the idiot I’m stuck with for my Congressman. But don’t try to make them beliefs WE must live by. We have the right to tell you to go to hell—and we will!
And yes, this includes religious beliefs. Most churches are just conspiracy theories with money.
Perhaps by next year I’ll be marveling that we are in a world where food, shelter, water, clothing, medical care and education are rights, and not something to be begged for from scowling billionaires. Perhaps we’ll be on our way to a world were both billionaires and hunger no longer exist.
Yes, these are scary times. Nobody’s going to dispute that. But these aren’t end times, and history shows that the brightest sunrises happen after the longest night. It’s times like these that lead to human renaissances. Our greatest eras followed the Inquisition, the Black Plague, Civil Wars and Hitler.
I hope by next year I can write pieces, including the Solstice letter, that don’t include politics. I miss writing about Iceland and Elves, Shackleton and Exploration, and other Solstice themes. Let’s resolve to get the miserable creatures of the right off our necks so we can live free and free from fear!
We will overcome the twin plagues of COVID and Trump. We won’t only prevail; we will prosper.
Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.