Maybe It’s the January Blues or Maybe America is Falling Apart

It’s probably the weather. For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated the month of January. We lived in rural Maine for 32 years, and January always tried to break us. Oh, the cold snaps, often as long as two weeks with temps getting down to 25 below zero. Yeah, starting the car the next morning in order to drive snow-covered roads to work was always a gamble. Needless to say, Maine in January ruined my tolerance for the month for the rest of my life.

So …. It’s probably the weather that’s making me feel a mix of anxiety and impatience.

Things look a little bleaker than usual. To my discerning eye, predictable outcomes loom.

To explain my feelings of doom, I have to go all the way back to the election of 2016.

I believe that was the most important election of my lifetime. It changed life forever. We have yet to recover, and I sincerely doubt that our eventual recovery will look much like life prior to 2016. And, yes, I realize we’re going through a world pandemic on top of the fact that it’s January, but my unease haunts my dreams.

To my eternally optimistic friends who refuse to think too long about sad things and choose to believe that humans are primarily well-intentioned, keep up the good work, I guess.

I wasn’t wired that way. I was once told by a colleague that I had the dubious distinction of being the one staff member who said what no one would dare to say. She was my cheerleader which helped, but still, she pretty well summed up my natural tendencies.

I’m a pragmatist.

If I get 75% of what I want, I call it a good day, but when nothing turns out the way I want it to, I try to identify the problem and then expose it. Now, I freely admit that being an outspoken woman isn’t the most comfortable thing in our society. We’re generally labeled hysterical or shrewish before we’re finished speaking. We can even make our sisters cringe with discomfort when we speak too boldly.

Yet, the gloom and doom hovers and I refuse to ignore it.

There’s something almost palpable in the air. The pandemic has exposed our inherent inability to cooperate or to make sacrifices for the good of society.

Our politics are grimly reminiscent of past conflicts and social breakdowns that resulted in governments that hand selected martyrs from a particular demographic.

Yes, I would easily end up falling into that group. Furthermore, as every system that defines a society — universities, teachers, scientists, historians, professors, artists, writers, doctors, nurses, hospitals, schools, even our postal service — is under attack by the very people they serve, the plot thickens. Everything is doubted. Everyone is mistrusted.

Making it possible for a lone individual to claim that they are the answer.

And, because humans love, even crave a Jesus Christ, many soon latch on to this charismatic character in an unhealthy fashion. The wheels begin to turn and history repeats itself. Except no one remembers history because it was buried in the debris of a fallen society.

In case you think that I’m referring to our former president, I must clarify. That was a trial run, a test so to speak.

The results of the big test are still being carefully examined. What worked and what didn’t continues to be verified. How far can we go with this or that before we’ve gone too far is being determined. Surprisingly, it was easier than anyone thought, however.

I happen to think that the outcome of the 2016 election was a massive surprise to everyone, including the Republicans.

I don’t believe for one minute that the party was pleased with the outcome either. They were just as surprised as everyone else seemed to be. Strangely, I was one of the few who regularly predicted on social media that democrats should beware, proceed with caution, and not throw away a single vote lest they end up with a nightmare. I was right.

Hmmmmm …fancy that! A woman was right. Maybe that’s why only a few of my friends listened to me.

The Republicans were thrown off their game temporarily by a new president who refused to listen to anyone, not even their own party. He was wildly unpredictable, often incoherent and contradictory, impulsive and without personal constraints of any kind.

At first, they had no idea how to handle him.

Yet, as time passed, something totally unexpected became very clear. The people weren’t as easily shocked or appalled as we once thought they would be. In fact, politicians really could make outlandish suggestions and get away with it. It was a risky game, but eventually the party turned hm loose, fixing a faux pas whenever necessary and patching up his outlandish mistakes even while becoming more and more excited about the results of this unplanned social experiment.

Whatever and whomever follows the big test will be better equipped to remain in power a lot longer.

They will work smarter and faster than the original prototype did. They will be much more dangerous by design rather than winging it like their predecessor. Long lasting changes in cultural attitudes will be forged and progress will resume with greater precision. Concepts and processes were given a trial run in 2016 and a lot was learned. A new model of governing was created and is waiting to be fully implemented if given a chance.

Will 2016 eventually look like amateur hour? Was it the beginning of the end?

Oh, dear, my friends are saying. Teresa needs help. Maybe she suffers from SAD. Maybe she needs to get out more often. And, they could be right. Maybe I do need to get out more often, but not yet. Maybe in March. Until then, I’ll do what I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. I’ll keep observing human behavior, wondering all the while what makes us do what we do. And, when things don’t look promising, I’ll say what needs to be said.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. Her books can be found on Amazon.

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