The poetry of a changing year
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, January 1, 2015


Jan. 1 has no real meaning, astronomically; the earth reaches the place it was, relative to the sun a year ago, every day.

Nevertheless, as we head into the traditional New Year, I pause to ask:

“What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you —.”

Lucinda Matlock, Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters.

I still love much of the poetry I learned in high school; this is one favorite to share today, just in case anyone’s feeling a tad weary after the extraordinary events of 2014 that I’m not going to reiterate here, because they’re behind us now, right?

Not that there’s anything wrong with anger, when it’s called for by events and the people causing them. Anger and discontent are the only proper response to things that need fixin’. It’s the sorrow, weariness and drooping hopes that seem an odd response to a brave New Year, another chance to get it right. And yet I hear discouragement, sometimes from political activists on my side, which is to say, the side of truth, justice and the American Way: the Constitution, rule of law, freedom with personal responsibility, the melting pot of nationalities, races/colors, and creeds that believe in said American Way.

I’m happy to see the Left dispirited by the Republican takeover of the Senate, more Republicans in the House, Republican governors, many Americans looking at what the Left hath wrought in the last several years and asking, what the hey!? Of course it’s easy to imagine the Right becoming dispirited if said Republicans don’t live up to campaign promises and take advantage of their majority status to set things right, and if most Americans decide to escape into apathy instead of taking responsibility for their government.

One could say it’s not a hopeful sign that, when asked by Gallup to name their most admired man and woman, respondents placed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on top; but only 12 percent said this and the rest spread their votes across a spectrum of political and entertainment choices.

At my age, the word “admired” doesn’t evoke the same quick response that it did when I was a child and had a long list beginning with Peter Pan, who seemed real to me -- and even now, I stopped watching the ABC series “Once Upon a Time” when the writers made him a villain. In sixth grade I would have probably said Fidel or Raoul Castro, as I imagined running away to join the Cuban revolution; glad now I didn’t, they were a big disappointment.

The third popular choice on this year’s admired woman list was Malala Yousafzai, the courageous young lady who was shot by the Taliban and continues to stand up to these terrorists and their mission to keep women uneducated. I’ll choose her. Stephen Hawking is on the men’s list because people have recently seen the movie about his life: I admire him, too, and all those who triumph over handicaps to lead successful lives.

Did you ever wonder why the political spectrum is called Left and Right? Left and right of what center? I’ll share an excerpt from another favorite poem, Henrik Ibsen’s “Brand”:

“Enjoy life if you will, but be consistent, do it all the time,
Not one thing one day and another the next.
Be wholly what you are, not half and half.
Everyone now is a little of everything…
A little lavish in giving promises, but niggardly in fulfilling them;
A little of everything; a little sin, a little virtue; a little good, a little evil;
The one destroys the other, and every man is nothing.”

Well, I’m sure Brand didn’t mean to validate being wholly bad just for the sake of consistency. I just like the final phrase: “and every man is nothing.” Seems a fair description of those who compromise too much.

Let’s just consider right and wrong, then resolve to make things right in 2015.

I resolve to continue to represent diversity this year. All by myself, as a libertarian, I bring Diversity to any debate, even when it’s a debate among other libertarians who share a bottom-line value of freedom, then argue about foreign policy, immigration policy and legalizing drugs.

We do need a definition section to our 2014 policy debates. I’m not always sure what “conservative” wants to conserve: certainly, the Constitution and the American Dream, but wasn’t it one of our Founding Fathers who said “waste not, want not”? So I include conserving the environment, which is why I recycle and try to control my environmental footprint (as long as no one is trying to force me to do this, see libertarian, above).

I do not support the “carbon tax” on all fossil fuels used by Massachusetts consumers that was recommended by a report released last month by the state Department of Energy. Voters just repealed an automatic gas tax hike; give it a break, liberals.

“Liberal” in general means generous, though was it once assumed this meant with one’s own resources and not what it could take from others before distributing it?

While everyone was busy compromising and getting to the Center and getting along, our national debt hit $18 trillion, of which my teenage grandtwins each owe $56,000. No one seems to care anymore.

However, I do not have drooping hopes. I expect things will get so bad that voters may be ready for a libertarian to be elected with a mandate to apply Right principles and conserve America, and then, final poem today, from Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Happy New Year.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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