Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: A "Happy" New Year, or The Same As It Ever Was?

I was mulling over a few ideas for either an end-of-year "Auld Lang Syne" post or a "Happy New Year" one when I fell upon these three pieces appearing in NRO at the same time

First, for some wry commentary about the "phoniness" of 2011, enjoy Jonah Goldberg's recollections here:  "2011: You Can't Win for Losing".

Next, for dry witticisms about our penchant for denying the same, try Mark Steyn's "Happy New Year?"

Flowing from the pens of Goldberg and Steyn, both pieces are reliably amusing. But in this instance, they're a bit depressing as well.

So, finally, for an important call to action of sorts, turn then to Charles Krauthammer's "Are We Alone in the Universe?" 

At the end of an otherwise sobering article, Krauthammer digresses with this:
Rather than despair, however, let’s put the most hopeful face on the cosmic silence and on humanity’s own short, already baleful history with its new Promethean powers: Intelligence is a capacity so godlike, so protean that it must be contained and disciplined. This is the work of politics — understood as the ordering of society and the regulation of power to permit human flourishing while simultaneously restraining the most Hobbesian human instincts. 
There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics, and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty — statecraft). Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction. 
We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics — in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations — is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it. 
Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day. Out there. By them, the few — the only — who got it right.
You're probably familiar with the old adage, usually attributed to Edmund Burke, that "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  I have a theory that the good men of America, the best men, are only very rarely motivated to become actively engaged in politics.  When our society is functioning properly, that is, when it's operating according to the original plan, the stuff that makes for day-to-day politics is for the most part minimized and marginalized.  During such times, good men and women are preoccupied with minding their own business, i.e., making a buck, inventing a better mouse trap, raising a family, volunteering to coach Little League or lead a Girl Scout Troop, etc.  It's only when confronted with genuine crises that such people are roused to action.  Regrettably, we now live in a time of genuine crises and all that is necessary for evil to triumph is, well, you know the rest.

Therefore, good men and women of America, if you're not already politically involved, in 2012 resolve to become so.  At the very least, resolve to encourage, to press even, the good men and women whom you know to become so.  The normally "silent majority" of good Americans has not yet been heard.  When they finally are, I remain confident that things will change...and for the better.

Happy New Year everyone!  

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