Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: New Year's Eve Reflections

                2016 is behind us now. Good riddance.

                To say that 2016 wasn’t the best of years is like saying a zit isn’t your best facial feature. On an individual level, a startling number of accomplished people passed away in 2016. It was a horrific year for musicians with the deaths of David Bowie, Glen Fry, Paul Kantner, Bobby Vee, Maurice White, Sonny James, Sir George Martin, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Pete Fountain, George Michael, Prince, and Merle Haggard, just to name a few.
                Comedians Bob Elliot and Gary Shandling, among others, were lost. Authors and journalists such as Elie Wiesel, Harper Lee and Morley Safer left us, too. Actors and actresses had a rough year as well, with the passing of Garry Marshall, Ken Howard, Patty Duke, George Kennedy, Florence Henderson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gene Wilder, and- within hours of each other- Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
                What’s more, a number of the greatest sports figures of all time expired in 2016. Legends and heroes such as Joe Garagiola, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, and Gordy Howe all moved on to an even bigger arena.
                Astronaut John Glenn, once again, “slipped the surly bonds of Earth and touched the face of God,” as Ronald Reagan would’ve said. This time for good. And, speaking of Reagan, his wife Nancy passed on this past year, too. As did Janet Reno, Shimon Peres, and the inestimable Antonin Scalia.

                 On a macro scale, 2016 brought the Louisiana floods, Hurricane Matthew, massive mergers, email server scandals, Russian hacking, and Yahoo security breaches. All of which we talked about on our exploding Samsung Galaxy smart-phones.
                2016 was also a banner year for radical Islamic terror. By one website’s count, there were 1,274 attacks in 50 nations, resulting in 11,774 dead and 14,303 injured. These are difficult numbers to arrive at, and subjective figures, but we can all agree that there were too damn many attacks, resulting in too damn many deaths and injuries. Besides the incessant attacks in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Indonesia, and Israel, etc., there were many in the West, as well. Brussels, Orlando, Nice, Columbus (Ohio), and St. Cloud (Minnesota) were hit…as were various other locales.
                As for the U.S., President Obama’s eight-year-long World Apology Tour hasn’t ended well. His exceptional belief in his country’s non-exceptionalism, as well as his sympathy for Palestinians, has left staunch allies, such as Israel, feeling hurt and endangered, and others, such as Britain, puzzled and condescending. Even worse, potential adversaries no longer fear us. Nice job, Mr. President! You didn’t want other countries to think we were arrogant. How’s that working out for us? How about we at least make them believe we’re competent again?
                There were a few good things that happened in 2016, however, such as Brexit and Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. Indeed, people across much of the globe are getting sick and tired of their leaders- the establishment- telling them what to do and how to think. These arrogant elitists wallow in their own power and goodness, while failing to protect the people they lord over. These Big Government types live in the lap of luxury, frolicking with their friends in Big Business, Big Media, and Big Academia, while mocking the middle classes and country folk who actually grow food and make things.
                This is the hope for the future. These seeds sown in an otherwise repugnant year could- potentially- lead to a new morning, bright with promise. If we can cast off the shackles of shame and break free of the chains of political-correctness, if we refuse to allow those “progressives” in power to label our opinions, beliefs- and, in many cases, simple facts- as “fake news,” there may yet be a Second Renaissance.

                Yes, when all is said and done, 2016 could be a pivotal year. If- in 2017 and beyond- we continue strengthening our resolve to pivot away from rule by global elitists. The world is truly at a crossroads. Things could get dramatically better…or unspeakably worse.
                Stay strong. Never surrender. Raise your glasses with me now, and let’s ring in the New Year with a toast: “Let freedom ring and reason sing!”
                 In closing, a few lines from Longfellow seem applicable to the survival of the United States- and indeed the West- as we head into 2017:

                Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
                Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
                Humanity with all its fears,
                With all the hopes of future years,
                Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

                        Happy New Year!

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