And so the curtain descends on 2008, surely one of the more bizarre years of the last decades.Â The Bush era is about to end, a long eight years that began effectively with 9/11 and ended in the shards of the Roadmap to Peace, and during which Iraq was all but destroyed, Afghanistan reduced to rubble, and the global economy went into meltdown. Â Such ruin came with a ten trillion dollar price tag, according to Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz writing in the December Harpers.Â I wonder where the money wentâ€¦.
The coming year may witness some kind of miraculous recovery with a new administration in place, but stability will more likely come at the end of a long, slow, and probably painful process of reconstruction.Â Perhaps it was appropriate that the Chinese Olympics produced such spectacle last summer.Â They do it supremely well, having invented fireworks and dragon parades along the way.Â It is unlikely that the world will see the like for decades to come.
For many, and not only US citizens, the nomination and election of Barack Obama was a needed harbinger of hope, even as the economy began its seemingly inexorable slide toward depression.Â He chose his emblem well.Â A new day of freedom, truth, and peace may well dawn sometime, if not soon enough.Â The task is urgent, the call is clear, and the will is present.Â Hercules had lesser assignments. Â Give the man a chance.Â More than that: give him support.
A New Year’s salute from a wise, now distant voice:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
(Emily Dickinson, c. 1861)