I suppose I should be more positive about the year, given that my personal life has been going very well. But just because my life is in some kind of order doesn't mean that the world is. A LOT of stuff is going wrong, and not just in the U.S. (though my list will emphasize U.S. stuff, since that's where I live, at least at this point).
Here's my list, from pretty bad to truly awful:
10. The loss of the Georgia Archives. Every state is having to make up for lost federal money, just as they have for several years now, but this is a really terrible loss. Sure, the state will still be sending stuff to the archives, but there will no longer be anybody to sort through it, file it away, or retrieve it when it's needed. Our history will sift into the great black hole, never to be retrieved until we somehow get more funding for it. And we won't. Some day my kids will want to know something, and they won't find out about it. I'd make this higher on the list, but other states have had to do worse. Washington State has closed a bunch of mental health facilities, and those patients have nowhere to go. Will they end up on the street? Many of them probably will, and I can think of no way to stop it from happening.
9. The slow shift in education towards non-learning. I have a teaching degree and nearly 20 years of teaching experience, and I am utterly appalled by the way students are taught today. Instead of active learning involving visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning, kids are taught to sit still for eight hours a day, pumping out boring, out-moded ideas onto even more boring worksheets, just so that they have the "skills" to pass a test. What happened to actual learning? What happened to the study of a subject in an illuminating, active way, one that would pull students in with interest and involve them in the investigative process? Why are kids constantly told to "shut up" and "do their work"? Are we just training them to work obediently and silently in future office cubicles? Really?
8. Les Miserables. Poorly orchestrated and badly directed, the film was trying too hard to be "new" and "edgy" and muffed up the beauty of the play--and the original novel--almost beyond recognition. Sure, other movies weren't great this year, but the hubby and I have been waiting for this film since we were dating, when we sat on the front row of the stage musical and saw it for the first time. Only the film of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was worse, but since it came out more than a decade ago, I can't make it an item on this list.
7. Lance Armstrong. I'm sure he's feeling more pain than anybody right now, but the whole thing was wrong. It's the worst of these kinds of stories, taking what should have been a heroic rise from cancer and turning it into one of the biggest cheats in sports history. Yet he was just like so many other athletes, in the end. It's just that his fall was the farthest.
6. The new NFL football pants. Sure, lots of sports enthusiasts would point to Lance Armstrong's decided fall from grace as a bigger story, but those horrifyingly see-thru white pants the teams were told to wear this year make the sport unwatchable. Literally. The hubby thought women might actually make up more of the audience if they could see more of men's unmentionables, but I, for one, did not enjoy the sight of a 400-lb. offensive lineman's derriere, especially when framed with the standard white jock strap. Gross! Even more than my own bleeding eyes, I was offended that these guys had to wear the pants in the first place. I'd show a picture, but it would make your eyes bleed, too.
5. The fiscal cliff. Really? We pay you guys all sorts of money--hell, y'all earn more during your terms than most people in this country earn in a decade, and some in their lifetimes--and you can't get this kind of thing done? You know what happens in a private business if one doesn't get one's job done? One is FIRED. Why you have years of protection that the rest of us don't have with our own jobs is the travesty. Stop whining, stop in-fighting, and get your job done. Now.
4. Shootings. I thought no shooting could be more senseless than the one in Arizona, which killed a little girl--until 20 little children were blown away, along with 6 school teachers and administrators. The news is still busy trying to figure out why, but there is no answer. There will never be a reason. That day will never be anything but senseless. The psycho who gunned down four firefighters, murdering two of them as they fought a blaze he set himself, proves even more the senselessness of man's inhumanity to man. We create so much pain for each other, for no reason, over and over.
3. The NRA's "answer" to the incident in Newtown. More guns? Really? Take a look at what Fareed Zakaria said about this answer, and about the prevalence of gun violence in our country. Go ahead, read it. It'll tell you all you need to know. The NRA's answer just makes gun violence MORE likely, and the thought of that makes me tremble. My kids go back to school in just a few days...
2. The cheats who created fake websites and "charities" for us to give money to--both for the hurricane and Newtown and so many other events--who had no intention of doing anything but taking the money and run. I'm sure Dante has a level in hell for you. That anyone would see in the tragedy of others a way to make a bunch of money is heinous in itself. To actually take steps to steal a murdered child's name and create a website, or advertise a bogus charity and pocket the money shows an insensitivity to life and humanity that I simply cannot grasp.
1. Our consistent inhumanity towards each other. I say this is the worst mostly because it is the basis for all of the other problems (except, perhaps the football pants). Whenever we place anything above people--money, guns, laziness, fear, prejudice, hate, ourselves, fame, etc.--we do evil. We are so quick to blame God for all of this, yet we need to accept the blame. This evil is only tempered by the generosity of so many other people to give to those in need, to help others, to speak the unpopular ideas, to teach us new ways to think, believe, feel, and see. This inhumanity is our worst problem, yet the very problem shows how we can choose differently, if we will only work towards love, mercy, and reconciliation.
So that's it. Far more serious than I intended, except for the football pants, but this year has been a troubling one. Any items you'd put on the list?