Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Well friends, the new year is here and with it comes hope for a better future because we all want it to be better than 2019 or 2020. But for me those hopes are tempered by my knowledge of history and my knowledge that despite our occasional moments of doing magnificent things, behaving courageously and even in the best interests of others and humanity, but our worst times occur when they don’t, which is more often than not. Barbara Tuchman wrote: “Human beings of any age need to approve of themselves; the bad times in history come when they cannot.” Unfortunately, I believe that one of those bad times is not yet done, and the worst may be yet to come like in 1861, 1914, 1919, and 1939, or any combination combined with weapons of mass destruction, artificial intelligent weapons systems, and world wide pandemic that try as we might to contain it, is not going any time soon.
If that were all it would be enough to make the world a far more dangerous place in 2022 than it was in 2021. There is the massive ramping up of tensions between Russia, versus the Ukraine, NATO and the European Union. Then there is the increasingly bellicose incantations of the Chinese Communist/ Han Chinese Nationalist actions towards the Republic of China, a Democracy which China never had a historic, cultural, or religious claim upon before Chang Kai Shek and his Nationalist forces were defeated by the Communists in 1948 and established a nation on the island of Formosa, which we now call Taiwan. However, President and Chairman Xi continues to claim that it is a ”renegade” province despite it being its own nation with a budding democratic tradition. Xi and his allies also threaten the United States for its support of the ROC. That would be enough, but over the past year the Chinese Communists have defied their treaty obligations to Hong Kong and crushed its majority pro-democracy movement, even removing monuments to the martyrs of Tianamin Square. We can then add their enslavement and genocide of the Muslim Uyghur population of Xinjiang province, and ,its continued threats to the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, and their development of hypersonic missiles and torpedos. But they have problems, especially economic with a very threatening real estate bubble that could crash their economy and send shockwaves throughout the world economy.
Then we come to Russian military threats to the Ukraine. Russian President Putin, having already seized the Crimea and the Donbass from Ukraine in 2014 has massed over 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. Demands by President Biden, the European Union, and NATO for the Russians to stand down have been met with even greater threats. Russia’s position is not logical, but it is deeply emotional and seemingly personal to Putin. Though he appears in good health, he is not young and may be compelled by a medical condition to complete a conquest that would cement his role in Russian history, very much the reason that Hitler launched the Second World War.
Of course there is the constant threat of war with Iran which grows more as Iran attempts to undermine the governments of Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States even as it rattles sabers with the United States, Europe, and most importantly Israel.
Any or all of these issues could blow up at any time in 2022, all it takes is any combination of unfortunate events to set any one, or all into motion, with potentially cataclysmic results. I keep telling people that I feel that I am watching a modern replay of Tuchman’s The Guns of August or William Shirer’s The Nightmare Years.
none of that even mentions the political divide in the United States which overcame a Coup attempt on January 6th 2001, and potentially faces a reprise of racist and fascist terrorism backed by a core of cultists determined to return Donald Trump to power by any means. The are backed by a multitude of partisan and conspiratorial ”News Networks” and authoritarian radio and television pundits, who routinely spout Nazi like anti-semitism and racism; removing voting rights, civil rights, and religious rights from non-White Conservative Christians, even using violence to achieve those goals.
This isn’t fantasy, it is the reality in which we live. I will do what I can to influence events. Hopefully, ,y book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Religion and the Politics of Race in the Civil Era and Beyond will give me a chance to be heard at the national and international level. However, it will increase the personal danger to me since I have had real and verifiable death threats on this blog, social media, and when engaging Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists attacking leaders of civil and religious rights groups.
Sadly, many of these people claim to be Christians, and their words and threats are the most chilling of all, because they not only threaten my physical life, but also damn my soul to their version of eternal punishment. I truly believe that such people are dangerous, not just to the lives of people, but will so completely destroy the message of Jesus the Christ and that of the Christian Church that it will take decades if not centuries to see it reclaimed by people with no political or cultural prize at stake. But, for practical purposes, maybe for what passes as Christianity in the United States and any country infected with its sickness to death.
That may not sound like an uplifting or optimistic message, but they are realities that we must face. However, as trying and excruciating as the past two years have been, things can get worse, as Tuchman wrote:
“An event of great agony is bearable only in the belief that it will bring about a better world. When it does not, as in the aftermath of another vast calamity in 1914-18, disillusion is deep and moves on to self-doubt and self-disgust.”
Until tomorrow or Monday I wish you the best.
4 responses to “Welcome 2022: A Year of Hope and Dread”
I don’t know if you have read this Padre Steve.
No, not a cheerful start to the New Year, but a very realistic one. I share your concerns, Padre, but continue hoping that common sense will prevail. I’m not holding my breath on that one, though. I have been struggling with serious heart issues for the past 4 months and am just now lifting my head out of the rabbit hole and looking around. I don’t much like what I see, but like you, I will do whatever I can to open people’s eyes and bring about positive change.
Whenever I hear someone remarking along the lines of “it can’t happen here” or that things are not as bad as they seem, I think I hear the echoes of voices saying the same things in Weimar Germany in 1933, and in the United States in 1861. The Guns of August is undoubtedly relevant to the current world situation. Every American should read it, as soon as possible, if they haven’t already. War is coming. It could not be more clear.
Padre Steve, I just found you and I’m delighted! I share your concerns about this country and the world, and I also handle them by writing for change.
My novel Decoration Day starts on that day in Charleston City and ends in 1921, a time period which has a lot in common with this one. I’m aiming for a thrilling, character-driven tale of American history and music that posits a theme no less disruptive than Christ’s teachings: that though religious belief like capitalistic self-interest can be exploited by those who profit from societal divisions, we the people can choose to cultivate connections and treat each other with love and kindness instead of being pitted against each other.
I am grateful for your service and for your insightful essays, which make me feel like I’m not alone. Should you be interested in helping me get some stuff right that you know more about than I do, please reach out to me at email@example.com. (I have questions about military and civil history from time to time as I revise my manuscript for submission to agents and publishers.) I’m also looking for as many readers as I can find in the near future before I submit, so anyone out there who sees this and might be interested should feel free to contact me as well. Thank you and have a great day, Heather Hooper