I first began blogging in early February 2015, because I was taking a course about Political Campaigns, and the professor wanted each of us to have our own political blog. I got an "A" in the course, but even after it ended, I decided to keep on blogging. I may not be widely read-- as I've mentioned before, I get the most readers when I blog about the rock band Rush; and I may not be widely known-- I've had an interesting life, though, and I've met a lot of famous people. But blogging has provided me with a good way to comment on a wide range of topics; I'll probably keep doing it in the new year.
But since it's the last day of the old year, I have a few thoughts to share, and then I have a request to make. Let's do the thoughts first (in no particular order):
1. It's good to be alive. When I first began blogging, I'd recently had cancer surgery and was about to finish radiation. It was a scary time and I was seeking ways to keep busy and keep my mind occupied. Teaching my classes was one, taking an online course or two was helpful, and so were writing and doing some volunteer work. Now, I'm four years cancer-free; and while I'm still not as energetic as I was before I got cancer, I continue to be out there trying to make a difference. To all those who are fighting this disease, I send my love, and a friendly reminder that there are more people being successfully treated now than ever before.
2. It saddens me that our culture (and our politics) has become so polarized and so angry. I see it everywhere I go. Even some of my students, my friends, folks on social media-- everyone seems to have a shorter fuse. Okay fine, we've been polarized and angry before, and I assume we will be again. But it still makes me sad, especially given that we really do need each other if we are going to try to solve the problems that lie ahead of us.
3. No, Rush will not be reuniting, no matter how many online rumors
you hear. Fans keep hoping, but Neil really is happy in retirement; Alex
and Geddy keep in touch with him, but he does not want to resume
playing. Fan groups continue to bring together the many people whose
lives were touched by Rush's music, and perhaps Alex and Geddy will find
time to collaborate in the new year. I'm glad the three of them are alive and well and I
salute them: they've contributed to so many of us for more than four
4. It was a dangerous year to be a journalist. Nearly one hundred of
them world-wide were killed, and countless others were imprisoned. News
organizations in the US were not immune: individual reporters received
numerous death threats, some received pipe bombs in the mail, and others
were shot at (or in the case of five employees of Capital Gazette in
Annapolis MD, or Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, murdered).
While it has become fashionable to mock and condemn journalists and
accuse them of lying, most of these men and women are honest and
hardworking and many put themselves in danger every day to keep us
informed. They deserve our appreciation rather than our scorn.
5. In addition to journalists, we lost a lot of other good people, in all walks of life. I was always a fan of former first lady Barbara Bush; and Steven Bochco created two of my favorite TV series ("Hill Street Blues" and "NYPD Blue"). Linda Brown, the young girl at the center of the 1954 "Brown versus the Board of Education" decision, passed away in 2018, as did Marvel comic book legend Stan Lee. Locally, I will miss Judge Joseph Tauro, a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, and Gil Santos-- for many years, the radio voice of the New England Patriots. I will miss Boston television announcer Frank Avruch (he played the role of Bozo the Clown on Boston TV when I was growing up). In addition, I will miss radio and TV talk show host Ed Schultz-- while he was never as famous as his right-wing counterparts, he proved that progressive talk could find an audience and make a profit.
6. And while I know this will offend some folks, I still believe there are too many guns falling into the wrong hands. As a result, too many students got shot and/or killed this year (more than 100 kids over all). I'm not opposed to the Second Amendment, and I have friends who are sport-shooters. But I'm not okay about kindergarten kids having to do "active shooter drills" (a traumatizing experience) or teachers carrying guns in the classroom. I've said it before and I'll say it again: nobody other than the military and law enforcement needs an assault-style weapon.
Okay, now for the request. Regarding point number 2, please vow to be part of the solution in 2019, rather than part of the problem. I know that social media can be a great place for sarcasm and snark and rudeness. But the next time you receive a meme that demonizes the folks on the other side, could you possibly NOT forward it to everyone you know, and not "like" it? Most of the memes I see contain fake quotes, and all they do is contribute to more rage, more stereotyping, and more name-calling. I'm not a "lib-tard" and I hate it when someone sends me a message about "you libs." In the new year, let's disagree courteously, and try to respect each other's views. Thanks for reading me, and I send lots of love and good wishes for a happy & healthy 2019.