Stare Down Your Fears In The New Year

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Happy New Year.  It’s the annual time we take stock in what we’ve done, what we say we’re going to do, and generally finish up the holiday season while really just hoping work goes easy on us for the first week of January.

It’s a time to look back. Last year was a difficult year for many of us.  We had a full twelve months of pandemic pivots.  The stress of medical issues, both preventive and active, cast a shadow over everything.

Economic issues were also all over the map.  Many have found a way to redirect spending into savings and thrive.  Many have had their ways of making a living turned upside down.  Two generations that have never experienced real inflation have received their first taste of it, with a full meal likely to come.  None of us want to hear the term “supply chain issues” ever again.

Most of us likely experienced some kind of loss in 2021.  I had two friends die of Covid weeks apart in the early part of the year.  Two of my December columns were about the loss of two personal heroes and a mentor, Bob Dole and Johnny Isakson. 

That’s an amazing amount of negativity when looking backward, and it’s not overstating the various hardships we faced individually and together.  With all of these things going on around us, life still happened.

I attended weddings and saw friends bring children into the world.  Descendants of my great-great grandfather held our 74th annual family reunion after having to cancel the gathering the year prior for the first time ever due to the pandemic. 

There were more normal holiday celebrations, birthdays, vacations, and random dinners with friends.  Thousands gathered together in stadiums and arenas to watch their favorite sports teams and musicians.  The Braves even managed to bring home the World Series trophy.

With the state’s unemployment rate now the lowest on record, many are taking stock of their careers and are able to find occupations better matched to their dreams.  Companies at all levels have demonstrated that the minimum wage is really set by the free market, and those wages have been rising steadily as companies compete within an incredibly tight labor pool.

That’s a brief macro-view of 2021.  Now it’s time for us to turn the page.

2022 will bring us new challenges.  Some, such as lingering economic issues, navigating new stages of the pandemic, and all of the misery that comes with being a national toss-up state for mid-term elections are baked in this cake.  Other challenges are in the “high potential” category, topped by increasing odds of military issues with Russia in Ukraine and Europe, and China continuing to flex its economic muscles while flouting international human rights issues at home.

There’s going to be a lot of negativity carried forward into this new year, with the potential for entirely new issues that could cause national and/or individual freak-outs.  It’s been this way since the beginning of time.

But as it did in 2021, and 2020, and every year before, life will go on.  Amidst the chaos, there will be good times and bad. 

Our media – mainstream, alternative, and social – will focus on the negative.  “Scary” equals clicks. 

You likely have made many resolutions already.  You likely will be ignoring most of them well before the calendar turns to February.  This is perfectly normal too.

I’ll use this time to suggest one additional resolution, and one that would be helpful to you and those around you to do your best to keep.  2022 will require you to keep everything in perspective.

We’ll see headlines designed for maximum fear.  We’ll see political ads designed to divide us from our fellow citizens.  We’ll see gyrations in the economy that are to be expected after the worldwide factors of production were turned off and given a hard reboot.

Many will be selling fear again this year, repackaged as a fresh commodity.  Resolve to yourself not to buy these stale packages, nor to resell it to your family and friends.


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