What 2020 brings with her is the ability for us to mentally try new ventures and rewrite our destiny.
by Paul Moomjean
Americans love timelines, rites of passage and symbolic rituals. As much as we claim we want freedom, we hunger for security and structure. Americans are linear, not circular. We love moving forward and not looking backward. We are a time- and calendar-obsessed society, grasping on to the 40 hours a week, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day work week with two weeks of vacation and national holidays off. It is within our structure that we find our freedom. Therefore, with 2020 starting, while no different of a year in theory, is the start of something huge psychologically for both the individuals and the country as a whole.
What 2020 brings with her is the ability for us to mentally try new ventures and rewrite our destiny. 2020 is the year of the most important election of our lifetime and the dawn of a new era for a country just 244 years old on paper. With impeachment hearings on the horizon, primaries in current proceedings and a general election less than a year away, we cannot just think of this new decade as “tomorrow,” but as the set up for a new world ahead.
The recent political tide changes across the world show this to be true. England recently doubled down on Brexit, rushing in a more conservative movement. Israel is about to go through their elections, meaning long-standing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could face a Jewish nation looking for change as well. Conservatives are winning, yet socialism is still the flavor of the month. What we see across the Western world is a desire for change, yet no actual discipline to execute that change.
With the world at odds with a lunatic North Korean president, a rising rebirth of Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, and domestic terrorism in America growing with mass shootings and white supremacy going more mainstream, there needs to be some hope and restoration if we plan to see the next decade provide real hope and healing.
In a world becoming angrier, online economic growth and the lack of human interface seems to be expanding as well. Why leave the “safety” of home when we can bring all our needs home through Internet shopping and online streaming television and films? It’s almost as if we are creating a culture that we can be 100 percent financially invested in and 0 percent emotionally interacting in. Throughout the past 20 years, in our attempt to connect through smart phones and social media, we created a society that’s dumber than any before and less social overall.
Yet, all of this is correctable. As a former English professor, I tend to look backward into literature to gauge the future moving forward. Former poet laureate Billy Collins’ poem “The Parade” paints a picture of how America moves onward:
“How stimulating the scenery of the world/ the rows of roadside trees/ the huge curtain of the sky/ How endless it seemed until we veered/ off the broad turnpike/ into a pasture of high grass/ headed toward the dizzying cliffs of mortality.”
Collins’ poem is the great reminder that in our attempt to live forever, we rush forward, forgetting to just stop and take a deep breath and enjoy the sky above and earth below. We must slow down and let ourselves catch up to the endlessness of life ahead. Too often, after a busy holiday season of shopping, flying and celebrating, we don’t let ourselves just enjoy our wins and reflect on our losses.
The new decade is a symbol of renewal and refreshment. I challenge all of us to rethink our goals and objectives, both in the macro and the micro. The impeachment of President Donald Trump and the eventual Senate trial ahead threatens to rip the country apart. Yet regardless of the outcome, America will still be here. Until we are not.
To maintain our place in the world, we must be willing to stop, veer off the broad turnpike and face our own mortality before it’s too late. We created so much of our last decade because of fear; so let’s make the main ingredient of this decade our old friend, wisdom. 2020 is just the first step of a new and exciting beyond.