Turns out the Mayans were wrong. Maybe they did just run out of space on their stone calendar, or maybe we were just reading it upside down, as various cartoons circulating on the internet suggest. The world is still here. 2012 is wrapping up and 2013 is right around the corner.
Last night Steph and I went to see Ben Affleck’s movie Argo. It’s a great film. I’m not usually partial to espionage thrillers, preferring happy escapism to edge-of-my-seat drama, but this was one that I enjoyed. The witty one-liners offered up by the Hollywood characters played by Alan Arkin and John Goodman help break up the tension. My favorite line was delivered by the CIA higher-up portrayed by Bryan Cranston. When Affleck’s character is about to enter a meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and an adviser, Cranston warns that it’ll be “like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets.” Which of course reminds me of another internet meme doing the rounds on the subject of the Mayan prediction of the end of the world. Booo!
Yet, what kind of world have we created at the end of 2012? It has not been easy by any stretch. I know far too many people who have lost loved ones this year. Many unexpectedly or too early. Too many others who have been diagnosed with scary illnesses.
There have been too many headline-grabbing violent crimes, too close to home. Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Aurora are names that will live in infamy following 2012. Devastating natural disasters, made undeniably worse by man’s ineptitude, left so many destitute; western wildfires, particularly the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires here in Colorado and Hurricane Sandy on the east coast; overseas, horrific violence claimed the lives of too many innocents in Egypt, Libya, Syria and across the globe.
In Washington, ridiculous politics and ridiculous money fueled an election that everyone was glad to put behind us. And yet, really, what has changed as obstinate party leaders on both sides refuse to come to an agreement and are about to launch the country off the so-called fiscal cliff and back into recession, preferring to stick to their own hard-headed principles than do what’s best for the rest of us?
Has 2012 truly been any worse than any other year?
In some ways, yes. In some ways, no.
If the 26 victims, 20 of them young children, who were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut just two weeks ago lead this country to tackle the massive problems caused by negligent gun laws and disregard for the mentally ill, that will be a step forward. If a newly re-elected and invigorated president can persuade a congress to do what’s best for the common man, instead of big-money corporations, that will be a step in the right direction. If the will of the people can overcome the self-centeredness of the NRA or other special interest groups, we will move forward as a nation.
Will the devastating events at the end of 2012 finally cause us to wake up and face the hard questions? Or will things have to still get worse before they get better?
What is our break point?
The true story told in Argo is one of incredible individual risk-taking and massive inter-governmental cooperation. A CIA agent risks his own life and flies into revolutionary Iran in order to rescue six American diplomats who are stranded in the home of the Canadian Ambassador’s house in Tehran. It is only through unprecedented collaboration between the White House, the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the government of Canada that he can possibly succeed. And it is only because of his incredible bravery and putting his own neck on the line that he does succeed.
This is what it will take for us all to succeed in 2013. Courageous individuals who take a stand and get the full backing of the power of the people. Leaders who are willing to put their own necks on the line and say enough is enough. Common people who will make their voices heard in such numbers that we cannot be ignored. Common sense over self-centeredness. The will of the people over the will of the few.
The Mayans have given us a second chance. In the words of Five for Fighting’s World:
“What kind of world do you want?
Let's start at the start.
Build a masterpiece.
Be careful what you wish for,
History starts now….”
It is time to set aside happy escapism and to get real. It’s time to build a masterpiece. Sign me up.