Thoughts for a New Year

The inclination is to be frustrated at the inconsistency and cognitive dissonance.

By Mark Jamison –

For example, when a letter to the editor appears that asserts that Mr. Trump is responsible for the vaccine, the claim is at best questionable and at worst an obtuse denial of objective facts showing the administration’s utter lack of attention, preparedness, and competence throughout this pandemic—from early failures at distributing PPE to current failures to effect a competent distribution plan for the vaccine. The claim was that 20 million would be vaccinated by the end of the year; the reality is that only about three million received the vaccine.

Or when folks repeatedly decry massive election fraud, but there is no evidence or proof of any such thing. Yes, there were isolated incidents—for example, the senator from Missouri who was registered at an address he did not live at, in violation of state law. But the repeated claims of in-person fraud used to justify voter suppression are simply not borne out by any facts or evidence.

Worse are the claims of conspiracies to change votes and the attacks on civil servants who administer elections, all of them originating from fevered imaginations that simply can’t grasp that the candidate they cultishly worship did not win more votes.

Yes, Mr. Trump got more votes (74,222,593, not the 75 million he exaggerates) than any previous incumbent presidential candidate. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Biden received 81,281,502 votes, and as much as Mr. Trump’s supporters would like to deny the validity of that, neither wishing nor believing changes the raw fact.

The real belief of those supporters seems to be that those 81 million votes are somehow less worthy, or were cast by Americans who are less worthy, than the votes cast by those who supported Mr. Trump.

There have always been flaws in the fabric of the American experiment, but the current conceptions rend the very soul of our nation, dividing We the People and making a lie of “Liberty and Justice for All.” Our aspirations towards greatness are betrayed by a descent into mendacious authoritarianism.

The inclination is to be angry, to be offended at the casual cruelty, the insults, the disregard for others, the plain bad manners. Mr. Trump blusters and bullies, blames others and deflects responsibility, wallows in his grievances while thousands of Americans die each day and others are immiserated by his feckless response and management.

Meanwhile, a Congressman-elect, a callow youth whose victory is based not on accomplishment or merit but on his willingness to stoop to idolatry for a false prophet, suggests those who opposed him should “cry.” Perhaps this is just another example of the abandonment of a government of the people, by the people, for the people in favor of the mobster mentality of “I’ve got mine.”

Moses came down the mountain to find his brethren in a frenzy of worship around the golden calf, and he smashed the tablets. But the overwhelming message of Scripture is faith, hope, care for our neighbor, and acceptance that all God’s children are our neighbors—and most of all, that forgiveness and grace bid us otherwise.

So in this new year it is my hope that we retreat from anger, fear, and disdain, and reach for reconciliation. May we escape from ignorance, greed, and selfishness and embrace acceptance, equality, and justice. May we find new love for neighbors and acceptance of many more as neighbors.

Let us seek civil discourse and understanding, forgiveness and hope, so that our aspirations as a nation and as individuals embrace the fundamental message of grace.

Mark Jamison lives in Jackson County. A prior version of this commentary appeared in The Sylva Herald.


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