NICHOLS: will the new year bring hope?

Not likely if we were not hopeful by choice and habit in the old. To have hope or to be hopeful is, like so many of our feelings, a matter of choice.

And hope requires an object in which we can reasonably place our confidence. Some time ago I noted that governments do not give us an abundance of reasons to hope in them. But let’s give them the benefit of a few of our doubts. They probably do their best from time to time. 

But governments are made up of human beings, fallible human beings, subject to err from an abundance of pressures: peer, ego, financial moguls, superiors, their publics, political reality, a bunch of other reasons, and from ordinary, unmitigated ignorance. Of course they do; governments are made up of people just like the rest of us. Their people grew up in our homes, played our games in our streets, were entertained with the same stuff that makes other people laugh or shout or cry or curse. 

I have accumulated 17 years of reasons to write with some confidence on this one. 

Money? Well, maybe not; certainly not much. Remember 1929 and the decade-long Great Depression known as the Dirty 30s by those who survived the ensuing hunger, hand-me-down shoes, flour-sack shirts, and suicide? Not personally. But I do remember the stories my forebears recounted in my itching ears. 

More to our time, I clearly recall the financial near-disaster of 2008. The recovery is still tenuous. Have we learned anything from these episodes of “Life on the Street?” Maybe not.

And I am fully aware that entry-level wages in one of the bush sawmills that laid the foundations for communities right across the West were as high as $1.00 per hour in the early 50s. It took two day’s grunt work to afford a barrel of gasoline. No problem; most people in these parts didn’t own a vehicle then.

Conclusion: it is unwise, actually downright foolish, to elevate money, fickle and changeable as it is, to the focal point of our trust, our hope. Nevertheless, use the stuff wisely and read between the lines when considering Government handouts.

I also concluded that to trust in myself was the epitome of folly.

Doesn’t leave much in this fallen and broken world in which to place our hopes, does it?

Well, maybe we need to take a closer look at other things.

Having just come through the strangest, most unexpected, and unwelcome Christmas-New Year season in the memory of anyone now extant, why not pause to catch our breaths – and tally our debts. A lot has changed since Christmas 2019 yet some things are changeless.

Isolation.

Separation.

Fear.

Confusion.

All of these are rampant in our nation and in the world.

But changeless is the reason for Christmas; changeless the Hinge that swings the old year into the next. The birth of Jesus the Christ Child, which much of the world celebrates at this time happens to be that changeless event which virtually the entire world tacitly or otherwise acknowledges as separating the former age (BC, before Christ) from the present age (AD, Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord). In recent years there has been a push to subtly alter the nomenclature to avoid any reference to Jesus. The new usage gaining ground is BCE (before the common era to indicate dates before the birth of Christ) and CE (common era to indicate dates after the birth of Christ). 

But did you notice what hasn’t changed? 

Of course you did. Though the terminology is being altered to hide what people don’t want to acknowledge, the fact of the birth of Jesus, that event cannot be changed just as the date of your birth cannot be changed – try as you might to deny the passage of time and bring back your lost youth.

So, folks, do we have reason to hope in 2021 while still in the midst of a world-wide, energy-sapping, isolating, divisive plague, scourge, pandemic?

Absolutely!

We’ll need an Object of our hope. But that’s a matter of choice. 

The fact of Jesus’ birth, disputed by those who choose to deny it, is clear. He was born; He lived; He died; He rose again. And more besides: He is returning.

So we have an Object, in reality a Person, in whom we can put our trust. Yes, there is        hope in spite of covid for 2021: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

By the way, an ancient proverb may give us direction as we enter 2021: “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”

My New Year desire is that each of my readers enters 2021 full of hope and fosters that hope throughout the months, difficult as they may be.

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