We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It's very easy to look ahead and expect the worst. We could enter 2016 with low expectations. There are plenty of negative trends going on in the world. When aren't there negative trends? I can't remember a single year where life was rosy, bright and promising without a hint of clouds. Some of the less encouraging new years I remember were 2000 (that nasty Y2K bug which did so much damage), 1980 (Iranian hostages and an election...the Winter Olympic Miracle on Ice was still to come), 1988 (after the market crash, people were very uptight) and 2009 (again a market crash, the mortgage meltdown and the election of a president bent on dividing the nation as he claimed to unify it). Even in these years, there were many positives which were overlooked. Needless to say, we passed through all those years without seeing everything fall to pieces.
Which isn't to say some things haven't gotten worse. If all we do is focus on what's worse, though, it is hard to see how life gotten better. Yet it has. Hans Rosling spends much time discussing this (and his videos are always worth posting again):
2016 won't be sweetness and light, the news lately has had plenty of negativity. ISIS and the growth of fascism driven by Islamic radicals, Bernie Sanders and socialist wonderland driven by his belief in mythological theories which have been discredited time and again, an overbought stock market fueled by easy money, a dollar that is the prettiest horse in the glue factory, a Fed which is raising rates because it has no choice after keeping them low too long. There's plenty of bad out there to worry about.
2016 could still be pretty good. We may worry the so-called recovery is likely to end badly, though I hesitate to say it will be in 2016. It could've, and should've, ended many times in the past 6 years. But since it isn't a real recovery, more of a muddling along, maybe there hasn't been anything to 'end'. Even though it's been a pale 'recovery', plenty of good events have occurred.
To provide perspective, I'll speak for myself (and hopefully others), and state I'm in good health. I will presume many of you are, as well. If not, I hope you're healing and looking forward to being healthy. Health should always be the first thing we consider when determining if things are getting better, because if we don't have good health, even being surrounded by a utopian environment won't yield much enjoyment. After all, I know people who only seem happy when they have things to complain about, if that makes any sense at all.
There is an ongoing discussion about quality of days versus quantity of days in a life. But quality will vary from person to person. Even so, compared to when I was born (1962), we're living much, much longer. My father turned 80 this year, and he's surpassed the North American average age of 78. In 1962, the average life expectancy was about 68. Just having the opportunity for more time to soak in what is wonderful about this world is a gift we often overlook.
We're also wealthier. While much has been made of the evisceration of the middle class, a close examination of the data shows all income levels have been improving, and most of the shift out of the middle class quintile has been toward higher incomes. Maybe the belief that we're worse off is generated by expectations which are higher than they should be, I don't know. I do know, at least for myself, over the last 20 years I've seen 2 full years of unemployment, my income was cut in half two separate times when I found work, and I've figured out that looking at things poorly doesn't help make life, or jobs, better. At worst, I've learned to be ambivalent. A job's a job. I don't think that's negative. Work is a positive thing, and as long as you aren't going about it grudgingly, even the worst jobs have very good days associated with them. Furthermore, I don't look at people who are better off than I am, and say "hey - that's not fair! Where's mine?" Fairness, like quality, varies from person to person, and envy isn't a positive trait. I'm still better off, they are just better off than me. Good for them. I need to work harder, smarter, or both.
Most of the good times I've had recently usually revolve around one thing. Making a decision to act positively, and following through on that decision. The results aren't always perfect. They are usually pretty darn good.
I want to thank Bird Dog, and the long-lost Doc Mercury whose wit and insight first attracted me to Maggie's, for asking me to contribute occasionally. Writing is a difficult process. There are days I've written great stuff and gotten fantastic results and comments. Even on those days, however, I struggle to enjoy what I've written. Authors, I guess, are their own worst critics. Taking part in this process has been a net positive for me, as I hope it has been for the readers. It's a place to enjoy some common ground while sharing thoughts, ideas, and experiences. The comments are often as good as the posts, making this a classic marketplace of ideas.
In addition, I managed to lose and keep off unwanted weight and get in shape. Sharing that experience, as Bird Dog has recently, is helpful. Not only is it a great confirmation of accomplishment, hopefully our commentaries will help others who are struggling with the process. Ultimately, the desire to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle is a positive sense of self. I believe Maggie's plays a role in promoting that kind of mindset.
So as we near Christmas, and as 2016 beckons, I hope everyone has the chance to reflect on what's good in their life, temporarily place doubts and worries to the side, make positive and self-affirming decisions and see abundant good spirit and opportunity our world has. The promise of a better tomorrow is what drives us, and it's only worthwhile to have a better tomorrow if we are mentally prepared to enjoy it.
Ah Mr. Dog, it's been a while and as always, you've made my day a little brighter.
I haven't been around much since we moved to South Carolina - but Maggie's has always been on my mind, it's still at the top of my blog must read list.
Mrs. Shortwave and I are looking forward to 2016 as the year when things finally slow down a little. What with new Grandson, her DAR and church group and my getting very involved in my other avocation, amateur radio (went by 53 years as a "ham" this past April - didn't even realize it), it's been very busy.
Looking forward to coming back and visiting Maggie's on a regular basis now that I have "time". It seems the older I get, the less time I have.
Merry Christmas (better late than never I always say) and a safe and healthy New Year to all my friends at Maggie's.