City of
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Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

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2329 Keyes Ave
Madison , WI 53711

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Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
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Alder Evers’ Blog

2020 Reflections and Hope for the New Year

December 31, 2020 12:53 PM

Hi Everyone,

I recently signed up for Heather Cox Richardson's Substack newsletter, Letters from an American. Richardson is a history professor at Boston College, and her nightly musings on current events have become quite popular.

Yesterday's post began as follows:

And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.

It's been quite a year.

Quite a year, indeed.

I've noticed this current among my friends heading into the new year, a desire for a boring, uneventful 2021. I feel it myself, a desire to get back to some sense of normalcy, to not be battered by wave after wave of awful, depressing news. So many lives lost; by now nearly all of us know someone who lost their battle to Covid. Loss of jobs, hours cut, businesses closing or barely hanging on. Corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of government, and tens of millions duped into believing an election was stolen.

Wouldn't it be nice to just get back to normal?

But in reading Richardson's newsletter, it's clear there's no going back. The events of the last four years, Richardson writes, can best be understood as the last gasps of the Reagan Revolution and the austerity measures of the last forty years. These last four decades we've witnessed the unparalleled rise of global corporate power and the concomitant and dramatic increase in income inequality. To wit, CEO compensation has increased 940 percent in real terms since 1978, while typical worker compensation has only increased 12 percent. The myth of the self-regulating free market and the mythologizing of the rugged individualist who pulls himself up by his bootstraps ignores the fact America's wealth was built on stolen land, stolen labor and, in effect, stolen boots.

As Nicholas Kristoff opines:

One of America's mistakes over the last half century was to go too far down the track of extolling "personal responsibility" and haranguing people to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. When an infant in three counties in the United States has a shorter life expectancy than an infant in Bangladesh, that's not because the American newborn is making "bad choices"; it's because we as a country are. So by all means, let's talk about "personal responsibility" -- it's real -- but also about our collective responsibility to help America's children and give them a fighting chance to succeed.

We dare not go back to normal, whatever that means. Besides, all the roiling events Richardson referenced in her opening paragraph don't begin to touch on climate change -- the deadly wildfires, the crazy number of hurricanes, the unabated rise in global temperature we cannot afford to ignore.

In some real sense, 2020 may simply be a prelude to the ongoing challenges we'll be facing every year of this next decade, as our collective chickens keep coming home to roost.

So, what are we left with?  To me, the answer comes down to hope. As activist and author Rebecca Solnit states, "Hope is the embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists." In that sense, hope is akin to faith and the antidote to despair. Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, writes of "the lethal absence of hope," the undertow of poverty, trauma and addiction that leads to suicide, drug overdoses and gun violence.

The vaccine is coming, and that brings hope, hope that we can gather together once again, give each other hugs, eat out in restaurants, and, yes, go see live music!

Hope is the lifeline we hold out to each other, and the abiding spirit of those committed to transformational change. It's the basis for human kindness, the impetus to assist those in need, whether it be sewing masks or donating to food banks or shoveling our neighbor's sidewalk when they're unable.  

And hope is the answer to the calling to commit ourselves to real personal responsibility, not the type that looks out for number one, but rather to our common welfare, our collective good -- to the hard and necessary work of dismantling white supremacy, addressing climate change, and continually opening ourselves to the healing power of love and service.

As we enter the new year, may we all be filled with hope and the courage to face our challenges together.

Take care and stay safe,

Tag



Tags: Hope

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