Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Well finally we come to the end of the year 2017. That being said we can say that it was definitely a year. It was a year that filled the hearts of many with fear and unease. At the same time it is now in the past. It cannot be relieved or changed but we can take the time to learn from it and hopefully build a better future. In fact, building a better future and fighting against the forces that threaten freedom and democracy, including those in the highest reaches of government.
2017 like all of the past will be remembered and written about by historians, theologians journalists and philosophers and most will place their own interpretation on it and then go on to prognosticate about the future. However the future is unknown and even Jesus warned us “that we do not know what tomorrow brings.”
I am a historian. For me history is not just something dead in the past but a living reality that influences us in everything we do. As such I thing we need to learn lessons from history and apply that knowledge to what we do now. We do not live in a vacuum, if we did we would be very dusty and always spinning around, but I digress.
I think that we have to learn from the past in order to be ready for the future. But the future is unknown and often uncharted. Thus we should as George Patton said “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” That really is the reason I study history, not so we have a laundry list of facts events and dates that I can use to prove my point but rather to see how people and nations dealt with things that they either could not or did not foresee. Human nature doesn’t change and while circumstances and technology may change the way people deal with unforeseeable events can help us navigate future difficulties. It is not a guarantee but it is a help.
Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban wrote that “None of us are born into the world we live in.” That is so true because we are all born at a moment in time and the world is always changing and changing is ways that will always surprise us. Maybe not some of the events themselves, but the players that make things happen, the places that they happen and the speed of which they happen. Time stands still for no person.
Though the future is yet to be written people of faith place the future in the hands of God. Yet that being said we cannot erase the past and go back to some point in time where our interpretation of history says that things were better. Such thinking is pure fantasy and is quite delusional. Golda Meir said “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”
Unfortunately it seems that the American President, many of his supporters, pundits, politicians, and people alike do not understand this; nor do many of their opponents. George Orwell so poignantly noted “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”
I think that is a large part of why we are in the political mess we have been in for so long in this country and why I don’t expect things to get better anytime soon.
For me 2017 was a year of growth and learning as I transitioned from full time academia to dealing with the problems and challenges of managing a large Navy chapel program.
In 2017 I made plenty of mistakes and really haven’t deviated too much off of the Mendoza Line, I still am battling about 200 in the game of life and as long as I keep doing that I figure I’m doing okay. But hopefully have learned from those mistakes. I’m not going to make any resolutions for the new year because no-matter what I resolve to do it will simply be a repeat of something that I have resolved to do at least once if not several times during previous new years times and I don’t want to have to give myself “resolution absolution” yet again. I figure that there is no way that I could make it through New Year’s Day if without totally screwing them up so why bother.
However that being said I do resolve this year is to go out every day, do my best and try not to screw things up too badly. It is the same attitude that I have playing baseball or softball, so why not apply it to the rest of my life?
English poet Thomas Hood penned this:
And ye, who have met with Adversity’s blast,
And been bow’d to the earth by its fury;
To whom the Twelve Months, that have recently pass’d
Were as harsh as a prejudiced jury –
Still, fill to the Future! and join in our chime,
The regrets of remembrance to cozen,
And having obtained a New Trial of Time,
Shout in hopes of a kindlier dozen.
All this being said I think that the wisest thing ever said about the future was by Yogi Berra who wisely remarked “The future ain’t what it used to be.” But then was it ever what it used to be?
Tonight I will usher in the New Eve with Judy, our friend Patty, and our Papillons Minnie, Izzy, and Pierre. Right now we’re watching a movie that has been a long standing tradition for Judy and I, “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.”
So tonight to all of my friends I wish you the best, and in the words of Auld Lang Syne:
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Blessings my friends, Happy end of the Old Year and all the best for the New Year!