A Year Ahead

The fog of the future

A pandemic afflicted Americans in 1918. The worst of it was in the fall, especially October. By year’s end, the worst was behind them. They looked forward to a new year, the next year, the future in its first frame.

We do the same thing in 2020. Ready and eager to leave this year behind us, we anticipate 2021. In a recent speech delivered online, POTUS 45 Donald J. Trump said it this way: “I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight, and next year will be one of the greatest years in the history of our country.”

Regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of the cable news network you watch or social media platform you use, I think just about all of us would agree with that view. That’s your hope, my hope, our hope.

I do want to offer you a reminder about 1918 and the hope Americans had as they peered toward year’s end. The next year was 1919. Below is a brief list of what happened:

>>German revolutionary rioters are threatened they will be shot

>>American suffragettes celebrate the approval of women as federal voters – a new amendment is added to the Constitution

>>New boundaries go into effect for nations in Europe that have not existed until now

>>The mysterious influenza pandemic, a global killer of millions, reappears and then disappears

>>Prohibition begins – another new amendment to the Constitution

>>Racial protests and violence spread across American cities and towns

>>A professional baseball team, the Chicago Black Sox, is accused of cheating

>>May 4th movement in China

>>The Russian Civil War rages and may spread into other parts of Europe

>>The Mexican Revolution appears to destabilize much of Central America

>>Terrorist bombings explode in New York City

>>Turkish war of independence begins

>>First gasoline tax enacted in the US

>>Einstein’s theory of relativity is tested, while Mussolini forms the first fascist political party

>>Arab nationalists declare independence in Syria

>>US Army conducts first gas-engine expedition across the nation

>>American Legion holds its first national convention

>>New York Yankees purchase rights to Babe Ruth from Boston Red Sox for $125,000, highest amount ever paid for a professional athlete

>>POTUS 28 suffers major stroke and essentially hands over all duties to First Lady; influential media outlets report inaccurately on status of health of POTUS; in a severely weakened state, POTUS begins thinking about doing something that’s never been done before in presidential history

Remember, it’s a partial list.

And don’t forget my point in offering it to you–not to scare or frighten, not to discourage or alarm, but rather to let you know that, first, we can persevere (because your families did so then) and, second, to be realistic, pragmatic, and prepared to dig down deep if things don’t turn out as rosily as we’d hoped or preferred they would.