NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 22, 2012

As the old world ends, it's up to us to shape the new one

Barbara Anderson
Newburyport Daily News

---- — O Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

I always look forward to solstices, and equinoxes too, but none of them in my lifetime heralded the end of the world, so last week was really special.

As you know by now, the world didn’t end on Friday. The sun did stop its journey south but turned around to eventually bring us summer again. Well, technically, the sun doesn’t move, the earth … never mind, this is not a science column, which is why we can romanticize the event and discuss the apocalypse rumors too.

I read somewhere that one out of 10 people worldwide believed that because the Mayan calendar ended last week, the world would end too. I don’t believe this statistic for a minute, primarily because most of the people in the world, including a lot of Americans, never heard of the Mayans, and who polled the Chinese anyhow?

My favorite “Bizarro” cartoon of 2012: The Mayan stone carver is showing his boss a round stone calendar, telling him “I only had room to go to 2012.” His boss says “Ha! That’ll freak somebody out someday.”

My Llewellyn’s 2012 Daily Planetary Guide tells us that while Friday was indeed the winter solstice, with the sun entering Capricorn at 6:12 am, the moon was in Aries, the sign of new beginnings, not endings, though I suppose they’re the same thing if you think about it.

Llewellyn writes that “the Sun and our entire solar system will enter the dark rift in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy … but strictly speaking, this merger takes hundreds of years to occur … it is our belief that the Winter Solstice 2012 is not the end of the world, but that it is the end of a very long cycle” —perhaps to become “a very dark moment in history”.

I find this analysis from astrologers somehow comforting. Living in a present that makes very little sense, it’s nice to hear that there’s a reason for recent events that can be blamed on the solar system instead of our own failure to make the world a better place.

Think back through our lifetimes. At my age, I can say that the world is a better place since I arrived, just because I arrived in the middle of World War II, when it was threatened by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Hard to think how terrible our lives would have been if they had won, and people older than I say that this could have happened — if America had been less strong.

After the greatness that was America took the lead in destroying that fascist threat, we moved into the dark shadow of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. When we emerged triumphant from that shadow in 1992, we had almost a decade of a better world until Islamic extremists surged onto the scene. In that decade, maybe because there was no external threat to unite us, it seems that our culture started to fall apart.

I’ll put forth the proposition that life in 2012 is not better than life in 1992. I like television, computers and other technical advances that arrived in my lifetime, but something isn’t working, better-world-wise.

A thing called “political correctness” has displaced part of our First Amendment right to free speech, while somehow we’ve allowed other aspects of that right to become license for cultural ugliness. The sense of community that held us together as melting-pot Americans has been replaced by racial, religious, sexual and age-related division; communication among family and friends has begun to be replaced by short shallow blasts of contact with collections of barely-known “friends.” Personal responsibility is becoming a quaint foreign concept, while government expands its intrusion into every area of our lives, giving power-hungry people the power to bully us and, if we don’t strenuously object, control us.

This unbearable situation would be enabled by erosion of our Second Amendment right to bear arms, specifically created to protect us from the bullies. Appallingly, while good people mourn the tragic loss of innocent life in Newton, Conn., last week, the gun control zealots are using it to advance their citizen-control agenda.

Meanwhile, the growing national debt and unfunded liabilities increasingly threaten the resources needed to achieve the good things government was created to do: defending good people from evil, maintaining infrastructure, dealing with environmental disasters.

If we don’t find our way either backward or forward to a “better world”, we may well be entering that “very dark moment in history” about which astrologers are warning.

Llewellyn says that there will be “a totally new era that will be completely unlike the one we are living in at the present time.” It remains up to us, while still the most free people in the history of man, to determine the theme of that new era, to bring light to counter the darkness. This winter solstice weekend is as good a time to begin as any.

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill.

But let it whistle as it will,

We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

— Sir Walter Scott

---

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a regular opinion contributor.