A Brief Look Backward

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December 31, 2021- Betty White chose an awkward time to leave, but it was her time. It was almost a fitting end to a year that took us up, down and sideways-and turned us every which way but loose. I don’t want to say that last one too loudly. We could use a few more years of Clint Eastwood being among us.

As it was, there were a number of people dear to my heart, some of renown and some not, who left this earthly plane in this year now itself winding down. My extended family whittled down, just a tad: My aunts-by-marriage-Sabina Kusch and Dorothy Madigan; Aunt Dorothy’s stepson, John-one of the cousins closest to me, over the years; Charlie Kusch, Jr., another cousin who made his friends and family laugh, much as his father did before him. Diane “Dee Dee” Bean- was the first girl I ever dated-not that it ever worked out. Richard “Dick” Dow, was a next door neighbour, from childhood, who kept his family home and his father’s business running, until he could scarcely move, himself. Two educators from my scholastic past, Anthony Struzziero and Eugene Hughes, both of whom I knew as fair-minded administrators. The bulk of the losses were fellows in Faith, Baha’i teachers, one and all: Val Latham, Jr., Gisela McCormick, John Eichenauer III, John Kolstoe, Joel Oron’a, Ethelene Crawford, Wilfred Smallwood, Donald Streets and Dwight Allen. I lost a car, and gained an SUV.

It was not a year defined by loss alone. A grand nephew, named Liam, came into our lives, early on. Strong new friendships emerged. I was able to return to California and Nevada, after a year’s hiatus. I made two long trips across country, both largely around the sale of our family home, and mother’s voluntary relocation. A week spent in Texas was a perfect springboard for my seventy-second year. I was able to pay respects to those fallen in the name of freedom, though not to the extent I might have. Still, time spent in north Tulsa and in Minneapolis was a step forward, for this one who preferred solitude, for so many years.

Our community has held its own against one or another viruses. As if to seem a strange return of normalcy-the flu is back. The nation resisted the temptation to default on democracy. Both major parties are learning that complacency is dying out among the masses-and a moribund attitude will not fly. We Baha’is paid homage to ‘Abdu’l-Baha, marking one hundred years since His passing-and renewing our commitments to live as He did. That renewed spark of Faith is finding its way to friends of other religious traditions as well-as witness the Baptism, on Christmas Eve, of a man who had found his fortunes sinking.

We did not master disaster, and there were far too many lives lost-in California, the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, Montana, Louisiana, Kentucky and Illinois. The latest conflagration, in Colorado, took no lives, but left another pair of communities with scenes out of a war movie. Two dozen other countries, from Mexico and Peru to Kenya and Indonesia, saw tragic losses in both infrastructure collapse and from the forces of nature. Then, there was/is Ethiopia, a country I only recently was hoping to visit in a year or two. Now, it is riven in pain, and we can only pray for sane attitudes to rise to the fore.

2021 will be history, in short order. How different the year that is thirteen minutes away will be, depends largely on how many of us have absorbed this year’s lessons-and to what degree.

The Lessons

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December 30, 2020-

As with any of Earth’s revolutions around the Sun, there were lessons I learned for the first time, this year and lessons that were re-iterated.

Among those learnings that were new:

There is no limit to the ties we can build, in communication, without ever leaving our respective homes. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and media which will surely follow them, have made group communication across the globe exactly what humanity has craved, for centuries, a tool so commonplace as to be nearly as treasured as face-to-face contact.

The tools for healing are, increasingly, becoming available to individuals for careful home use. This year, in addition to do Terra’s Certified Pure, Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, I have been introduced to Thrive and Lifewave, complementary to do Terra products and to each other-and most importantly, not at variance with the allopathic treatments needed by so many.

There is also no limit to an individual’s ability to discern truth for self. The availability of means to investigate both spiritual and temporal truth on one’s own has only become amplified, in this day of so many competing “systems of truth”. No one, whether progressive, conservative or anywhere in between, can simply vocalize anything that comes to mind, without it being dissected and verified. The days when people followed leaders blindly are coming to an end.

Among those lessons that were underscored this year:

No matter how dark the scenario appears, there is always a ray of light. All during the pandemic, heroes in scrubs have been tending to the sick and dying, heroes with microscopes have been diligently working to establish an efficacious cure and heroes who are both the first (police, fire, EMTs) and last (funeral and cemetery workers) have tended to the victims, without faltering.

We are one Human Race, whether each of us recognizes it or not. Aside from a handful of people who believe the tragic deaths of this past year were staged, (and even among some of those), the response to excessive deadly force and the overreactions of some police officers has been to begin to view even the most unsympathetic of people with an eye of compassion.

There are forces of nature which will be ignored at the peril of all humanity. Like it or not, humans are part of nature, and have little choice but to exercise due diligence in how we treat the Earth and its other elements. Increasing fire, water and wind activities will keep reminding us of this-with earth itself (quakes and landslides) joining in the fracas-possibly in ways not yet experienced-or perhaps not experienced within the present historical record. (Those who believe there were civilizations before the ones we recognize have not been uncategorically proven wrong.)

I am confident that Coronavirusdisease 2019 will be brought to heel, just as the Influenza of 1918, and its successor diseases, were. It will still continue to be an astonishing decade.