Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Happy New Year
It'll be New Year's Eve here in China, at least the New Year's Eve on the Julian calendar, half a day before it is in the West.
I've never made New Year's resolutions. I make resolutions day by day, that's the only way I can keep them. But this year, I have New Year's requests.
I ask of the new year that it be truly new. I ask that it be a people's new year in that people petition, pressure, coerce and otherwise influence their leaders to consider the repercussions of their actions. I ask that it be a year of reconcilement and reassessment, that 2004, the year of the monkey, my year, be a year of reason. I ask that it be a year of compassion, a year of integrity and a year of a clean American presidential election. I ask that dignity and credibility be restored, at the will of its citizens, to the greatest nation on Earth, by the sense of decency and accountabilty by which it rose to greatness.
A friend of mine from California emailed me that she feels embarrassed to be American these days. Try being an American in China and answering to your students when they question American integrity. First, you hope to have the detachment not to take it personally, because it's never meant personally. And you stand there and vulnerably express, with the caveat that all countries have their disaffections, that you do not personally feel at all comfortable with some of your government's actions. I'm still passionate about American ideals. So I ask that the most authentic American empowerment be exercised anew. Maybe I had to get this far away to know how deeply it truly exists, so deeply it can never get truly lost for very long.
I ask that the new year bring regime change in the United States of America. I ask this humbly, celebrating the privilege to so say that it is my birthright. I ask that regime change represent a change of will, a change of process and a change of consequence. I ask that the sense of purpose in national decisions reflect the issues and values of human kindness, respect and the willingness to learn about and accept cultural differences with which, in this age of globalization, we must, with all dispatch, learn to co-exist.
Let this new year resound with novelty, enthusiasm and freshness. Let this be the year that greatness is rediscovered and shared, that bitterness give way to understanding, that arrogance give way to humility and hegenomy give way to cooperation and a rededication to justice. For all. For all time.
Each day dawns anew. Each day each of us can begin again. After a bad day, we say, "tomorrow's another day." But tomorrow, these days, where communication is instantaneous, carries the heavy shadow of yesterdays. Nothing is simple any more. In the face of that, I ask a simple thing. Let this new year be new.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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