I can’t think of a time when January 1 held so much angst and uncertainty. It seems to be an unusually somber time and with good reason. New Year’s Eve has always seem to be a manufactured excuse for revelry and sometimes it can have a festive feel about it. Not this year. Some of that may be personal but I suspect that there are many who are rightfully concerned about what the next 365 days hold.
The world situation seems to be teetering on the edge of a seismic shift. The change of administrations always opens a lot of questions but this time it is different. President-elect Trump has won and everyone needs to respect that. He will be tested in ways to which he is unaccustomed.
I would suspect that one quality the President will always need is the ability to be a good listener. Those to whom he listens must be strong enough to make sure their views are thoughtfully considered, even when they are in opposition. Those who have been appointed to supportive roles are obviously intelligent or they would not have achieved the status that brought them to national attention. Let’s hope that they are willing to put national interests above subservience to a leader who is, so far as we can tell, never in doubt.
The Middle East seems to be approaching critical mass. The role of the United States is precarious. Although we have strong beliefs about foreign policy there are limits to how effective that can be. Rash action can lead to cataclysmic results.
One need go no further back than 2003 and the false intelligence that opened the door to the current morass that is reshaping the entire region. Perhaps not showing much enthusiasm for daily intelligence briefings may lead to a more reasonable approach than we have been seeing. The fact that the President-elect’s foreign expertise is based on tweets and management of foreign investments isn’t particularly reassuring.
Cyberwarfare is a concept that we regarded as science fiction just a decade ago. Now that it has become a reality, the meddling with the electoral process by foreign powers may be the least of our worries. If secure data systems can be breached, just imagine the catastrophe of the power grid being shut down. The chaos would be instantaneous and calamitous beyond imagination.
Racial tensions in this country are being recognized after a half-century of neglect. Just think back to the inner city turmoil of the 1960s. The hopes that were given birth in the “long hot summers” have led to diminishing returns. It’s important to realize that tremendous gains have been made but we need to re-energize the progress that has slowed.
It would be easy to fall into despair as the New Year starts up. All of the problems we face as a nation and as humans cannot be solved by individual action and only ameliorated by national/international will. Nonetheless if we are to make this a truly “happy” new year, a few resolutions to improve our personal contribution to the commonweal are in order. Let’s all give it our best shot.
J Hayden Hollingsworth