Archives for posts with tag: New Year

Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”

“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed!  “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more.  What great fortune you have!”

“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.  “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said.  “What terrible luck you have!”

“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.

The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”

The man smiled to himself and said: “We’ll see.”

Such wisdom in the labourers of the land

Then, Donald Trump was elected president after running a campaign built on a foundation of vilifying Muslims and Mexicans, and bragging about sexual assault. The aghast neighbours complained to the farmer, “This is horrifying! Nothing could possibly be worse!”

The old farmer, unmoved, said, “We’ll see.”

In a few years, Donald Trump was impeached for a minority of the crimes he had committed while in office. And, despite the repudiation by the Republican-controlled senate, the neighbours were jubilant. “Finally, history will recognize the illegitimacy of this president! This is terrific!”

The old farmer, managing the various trade wars impacting agriculture at the time, said, “We’ll see.”

All of a sudden, there was a global pandemic. There were murder hornets. Donald Trump was advising people to inject bleach in lieu of the medically-proven preventative measure of wearing a mask. People were dying. Businesses were shutting down. The neighbours, ignoring social distancing measures, approached the old man. “This is apocalyptic! Surely you’ll acknowledge the objective fact that this is terrible! Come on, old man! What is your absolute deal!?”

The old farmer, nothing if not consistent, replied, “We’ll see.”

In this universe, rural voters are consistently Democrats.

Joe Biden won the election with a 7 million majority over Donald Trump. The first Blasian woman vice president was on his ticket. He had promised to bring the country back to normal. The neighbours, exhausted, said, “Doesn’t normal sound good? After all we’ve been through!? We just want to go to the movies and hug our loved ones. That’s not so much to ask! This is a good thing! Normal is good!”

The old farmer, the scope of whose lexicon is somewhat concerning, said, “We’ll see.”

After having fomented a soft coup for months, Donald Trump began an attempt to overthrow democracy. He lied about the election results, and went to bizarre lengths to discredit long-established norms. He refused to accept the results, and his enforcement of personal loyalty paid off as sycophants began to fall in line behind him. The neighbours, having developed this wonderful parabolic relationship with the old farmer, rushed to talk to him about it. “America is crumbling. Europe is literally breaking apart. The world order is shifting seismically. We will break you, old man! Something is going to get through!”

Quoth the old farmer, “We’ll see.”

And then 2020 ended. The year from hell had finished its revolution around the sun. The neighbours, their ranks thinned by the pandemic, collapsed at the doorway of the old farmer. “We did it! We made it to the end! This is cause for celebration!”

The old farmer, noticing a tickle in his throat, coughed. “We’ll see.”

New year, new beginnings. Time to start fresh. Throw the old ‘you’ into the trash fire from whence you came and rise like a new, slightly-less-trashy phoenix. That’s what we all seem to want: not just a new beginning, but to be rid of the mistakes of the past. We are no longer that horrid person who doesn’t eat well or doesn’t call their mom. We are better, and it’s best that we just forget that jerk we used to be.

DumpsterFire2

Rise from the ashes!

How do you measure a beginning? Is the beginning of a house when the lot is cleared or when the first nail is driven? When the architect completes the design or when they first dream up the idea? What about World War II? Did it start with the invasion of Poland or China? With the machinations or the election of Hitler? Or was the stage set by the end of the first War, simmering for decades? What about the current tensions with Iran? There are those alive today who have lived through the assassination of Suleimani and the coup of Mosaddegh. Sometimes we long for the simplicity of a beginning because it gives us the convenience of dismissing everything that has come before.

The truth is there are no firm beginnings. Our world is beset by temporal gradients. History is a long series of blurred events bleeding into one another. So it goes with our own lives. However, we try desperately to reject this reality. The question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, is a repudiation of evolution in favour of enforcing a concrete origin. The Sorites paradox offers a much better reflection of reality for acknowledging the ambiguity of beginnings.

egg came first

It’s just inconsiderate

If we want to change, we need to take into account, not just the entirety of our lives, but the context of the history around us. We would need to accommodate our previous habits, the caliber of our will, the willingness of our surroundings to accept our change, the conditions that shaped both our selves and our environment, and then the maintenance of that change in the face of the constant flux of both our selves and our environments.

Who do you think has a better shot at overcoming trauma? The person who accepts that it happened, recognizes their triggers, and has developed the necessary skills in the face of those things, or the person who chooses to begin anew? The problem is that whether we believe in starting fresh or not, the reality of the world around us and the psychological history within us will carry on regardless. What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, that would be absurd; it just adds another drop to the soup of our collected experiences.

The alcoholic who relapses after 10 years of sobriety is not starting from scratch, just as the Resolutioner at the gym is not a tabula rasa upon which a lifestyle of fitness can now be engraved. We shouldn’t live our lives denying the gradual evolution of our selves. We shouldn’t accept yearly incremental distinctions as any more valuable than our astrological signs. Make change by growing out of who you’ve always been, not because some doomed-to-fail tradition tells you it’s time.

There once was a champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, who came out of the Philistine camp. His height was six cubits and a span. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

Early in the morning David left the flock in the care of a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines were drawing up their lines facing each other. David left his things with the keeper of supplies, ran to the battle lines and asked his brothers how they were. As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear.

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron. When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp.

And thus began the proud tradition of calling yourself the morally righteous underdog, despite having superior weaponry, killing an unprepared competitor, and brutalizing a fleeing population.