This has been the gloomiest new year I can recall. There’s usually at least a brief period where we all hope that the year ahead will be better than the year gone by. Even in January of 2021, as bad as things were, the prospect of vaccines and a new president were making us feel hopeful, though the events of Jan. 6 were quick to trample any nascent stirrings of optimism.
To be fair, there’s a lot to feel pessimistic about. The pandemic is entering its third year of terrorizing an exhausted planet as we close in on a million American dead, climate change has thrown the seasons out of whack while producing ever-stronger storms and worsening disasters, war clouds seem to be gathering along Russia’s border with Ukraine, and our nation’s cultural and political death match between red and blue shows no sign of slowing. Normalcy, whatever that was, feels like a distant, ever-receding dream.
And yet, the year ahead may not be nearly as awful as we’re all imagining. There are plenty of good things to look forward to, if only we can convince ourselves to be open to them.
The pandemic, thanks to the omicron variant, is worse now than it’s been at almost any other point in the past two years. Cases and hospitalizations are soaring, putting a nearly unbearable strain on an already overworked and exhausted health care system. But there are some signs that after a brutal couple of weeks, we may see omicron disappear as fast as it came. The news from South Africa, where the variant first took hold and is now in full retreat, is encouraging. By February, we could find ourselves looking at omicron through the rear-view mirror.
What that means for the spring and summer is anyone’s guess. Dare we hope that COVID-19 drops to endemic, manageable levels? Will we finally be able to ease ourselves out of a 22-month state of emergency? It’s not impossible.
This year also begins with no U.S. troops engaged in battle in Afghanistan. We haven’t been able to say that for 20 years, and we shouldn’t underestimate what that means. The end of the war was ghastly and the American withdrawal badly botched, but there is peace – and peace matters.
2022 is also the midterm election here in the United States. I know a lot of people are absolutely dreading another election season, but I always believe that elections, no matter how bitter, should be a cause for celebration. Our democracy, as flawed and unfair as it sometimes can be, is still standing and the power of the people is still paramount.
Here in Connecticut, we will have a chance to update our election laws when we get to vote on a constitutional amendment to allow early voting. We all ought to jump at this chance. Hopefully, in 2024, we’ll have an opportunity to allow no-excuse absentee voting, but early voting would be a major step in the right direction.
In non-pandemic, non-political news, the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing this February, making this the only time in history where the Olympics have been held two years in a row. Yes, Western concern about China’s abysmal human rights record will translate into hard feelings and an ultimately meaningless “diplomatic boycott,” but all of that will fade into the background once the games kick off. Besides, I think we can all agree that the Winter Games are much more fun than the summer edition, right? There’s hockey, figure skating, ski jumping and, of course, curling! I can’t wait.
A few Connecticut towns have significant birthdays, which hopefully they’ll actually be able to celebrate! Eastford, which was formed from Ashford in 1847, will turn 175. Chaplin and Orange will both celebrate their bicentennials; Chaplin was taken from Windham, Mansfield, and Hampton in 1822, and Orange was formed from Milford and New Haven the same year. Trumbull will turn 225, having been taken from Stratford in 1797. We can be thankful for the endurance of our towns and celebrate the civic life they provide.
The motto of the city of Hartford is “Post Nubila Phoebus,” which means, “After the clouds, the sun.” Nothing lasts forever, not even the bad times. There will be blue skies again, and we will feel the sun’s kiss on our faces once more.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.