Bumpy roads ahead

My brief respite from weekly meditations was put to good use. I imbibed in consumerism for the sake of friends and family, but did not syncretize its frenzy.

Of course, I am thankful to all who were able to attend my birthday party and to those, particularly my detractors, who rang in both the globe's new decade and mine elsewhere. Finally, Jan. 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, a rather fitting bon fete for someone as presumptuous as yours truly.

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It is tempting to launch immediately into hot takes on the news items I missed in recent weeks. But such terse, engrossing prose will have to wait until a proper valediction of the year just passed has been made. As Great Grandmother Across the Sea put it in Her Majesty's Christmas Message, 2019 was a "bumpy" year. Personal reflections on this chaos, as well as a few resolutions, will make up the remainder of my return to tractarian life in our PG Citizen.

We stand in the midst of history happening all at once. If you missed the Prague Spring you can visit Hong Kong, or if one ever wondered what the collapse of continental empires was like, take a trip to Britain or Belgium. Sophistry and postmodern notions of philosophy are now preached from every school house in the West; for more religious observers, two popes reside in Rome, but with the statements coming out of the Vatican, it won't be long until a third arrives.

In the New World, Simon de Bolivar's spirit has reappeared south of the Rio Grande; within our hegemonic cousins, every constitutional crisis and political eccentricity is on replay, from intentions of the Founders to McGovern's 1972 platform. Canada has been relatively peaceful, but we still have citizens detained in China, a police state that puts ethnic minorities in concentration camps and harvests their organs - an innovation older tyrants only dreamed of.

The Middle East and North Africa stand somewhere between Franco's Spain and the Wars of Apostasy - the question isn't when the new Caliphate will come but who will be left standing to lead it. Russia is somehow involved on both sides of these proxy wars, just as it was in Soviet times. Even the strongest post-colonials are injured, with India's population reliving old tensions, and South African politicians competing to see who can gain the most from corruption.

Many have joked the 2020s will be a return to the unrest of a century ago. So far no one is laughing, with Berlin's Cabaret on public display annually, radicalism left and right raising its head, and cowardly governments caving to moral panics or strongmen bullying their neighbours.

To be clear, it's not all bad news: breakthroughs in science will alleviate our suffering and help us reach the stars, just as technological developments promise to help reduce pollution in our air and oceans. None of these innovators were Time's Person of the Year, but c'est la vie.

Yet if nothing else, as sincerely as is possible to convey it at my tender age of 30, it does feel as though things are changing at a rate that used to be relegated to centuries. And I am not at all convinced that this is a good thing, save maybe as the destabilizing catalyst that will allow for the final defeat of our oligarchs as well as the inhumane culture they encourage. Whether we can endure that long, till the final turn back to conscience and community, remains to be seen.

Indeed, 2019 was "bumpy" to put it mildly. But the resolutions to our ills are the same as ever - a recommitment to place and purpose, what my faith calls vocation lived out as virtue, will be necessary to weather our new decade's coming storms. Thankfully, we live in such a region that still takes these old exhortations seriously. With some luck and grace, we shall persevere.

More topical discussions will resume going forward. From the deepest parts of my soul, I wish each of you a late Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

God bless us, everyone.

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