Swickard: Each year has a lesson to teach

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  In a small unscientific study looking only at myself I find that the years go by quickly. They are packed with victories and losses. If we have a loss, at least we should get the lesson. Getting lemons doesn't help unless you have sugar and water for lemonade.
            Let's look at 2015 as we think about 2016. We must remember the mistakes that were made this year so we don't repeat them. We also need to remember our victories so we have some chance to repeat them.
            George Santayana in 1906 wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Our society doesn't seem to learn. Let's make 2016 the year we learn from a previous year's mistakes.
            If there was an organization to remember society's wins and losses each year they would say you must acknowledge both the wins and losses. Losses are difficult because people gloss over them while fixating on wins.
            The biggest loss in the last few years is the loss of the truth. Truth has become the new hate speech. George Orwell wrote, "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
            Many people are afraid of the truth because an expedient political power play has emerged in our society. It is to label as racist or worse anyone who opposes the wishes of the political parties. 2015 was a name-calling year with most of the name-calling being done for political gain.
            A friend runs a political blog and has a hard time with the inclination of some posters to name-call and act ugly. I am glad he is fighting that fight because we can never have truth in our society if the name-calling brigands are allowed to take over public dialogs.
            The year 2015 will be remembered as the year everything offended someone. David Bednar wrote, "To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."
            This year I found I could concurrently offend both Republicans and Democrats. I got hate emails from both the same week. I have written a weekly column for more than thirty years so I am used to offending people. It happens. But this year it seemed that there was a virulent practiced response to opposing ideas and that was name-calling and ignoring the truth.
            One person was very offended when I wrote about something that happened in the 2015 New Mexico Legislature. The problem for me was that I did not witness this situation myself. But I found four people who confirmed to me what happened along with two others in law enforcement who witnessed it. I would not retract my column.
            This last year the two major political parties were nationally very similar. The only thing they disagree on was which person should be elected, not the will of the people and how Congress should protect the Constitution.
            The emphasis of 2015 for the national leaders of both parties was to make government bigger. This has been covered extensively by the national press that can be identified by their political editorial leanings. Both the liberal press and the less liberal press have their agendas. If it wasn't for the Internet they would succeed.
            Many years ago Bob Hope quipped, "No one party can fool all of the people all of the time; that's why we have two parties." A friend said to one politician, "Please act as if you actually talk to citizens and not just consultants and fixers." That didn't go over well.
            Comedian George Burns was asked, "How's your wife?" He answered, "Compared to what?" That is what we have to realize each year. When we do a year in review in some ways we are often comparing to other years.
            Can we learn from 2015? Yes, but we must want to learn. We may have to change some of our elected politicians if we want real change. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, "Whenever people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government."
            We have many well-informed citizens but everyone loses when truth is politically inconvenient and so is absent from our society.