Hello, 2022. We hope you’re not expecting to get the honeymoon treatment that most New Years have gotten throughout history. You see, 2022, most of us are very cranky in the USA, and we have our eyes on you. It’s nothing personal, 2022. It’s just that our hopes for the last two New Years have fallen far short of expectations.
We remember the high hopes we had for 2020 — which seems like decades ago. That year got off to a great start. The economy was thriving. Employment was high. Inflation was low. Energy was abundant — and cheap.
Half of the country and most of the media grumbled about our orange-haired president who said embarrassing or divisive things and sent out strident tweets in the middle of most nights, but we knew we couldn’t have everything.
One of the few minor problems we had in January 2020 was that gas prices spiked to $2.57 a gallon — 34 cents higher than the year before. With gas now on track to hit $4 a gallon, we had no idea how spoiled we were.
We also had no idea that just a few weeks into 2020 our relatively untroubled and prosperous lives were going to be turned upside down by a scary global COVID-19 pandemic that would kill 800,000 Americans and massively disrupt our economy and smother our daily lives.
Now, following two years of draconian government lockdowns, closed schools and an ever-changing array of often arbitrary or politically driven mandates, we’ve piled up a troubling number of economic and social problems. Because of the stress and depression the lockdowns caused, the number of suicides and drug overdoses in 2020 and 2021 spiked around the country. So did crime rates and the homicide totals in our riot-torn cities.
Meanwhile, the federal government has been pumping so many dollars into our collapsed economy that inflation is running its fastest pace in decades. The poor and the middle class who lost their jobs because of the lockdowns — and millions of small-business owners who went under — are still struggling to keep afloat as our wealthiest only seem to get richer.
For the last two years our governments and their public health experts have failed in virtually every way to meet the challenge of the pandemic or communicate clearly. Based on the way the people in charge and the national media are responding now to the soaring number of positive cases of the omicron variant, which reportedly is more like a bad cold than a lethal virus, the coming year is already looking unpleasant.
If you want to be helpful, 2022, help us to chill. Help us to become wiser. Help us take a more nuanced and thoughtful approach to addressing our country’s — and individual – challenges. Help us be courageous, hopeful and graceful as we power forward.
The hope is that this coming December, we can look back to a year in which we finally got ahold of ourselves and began again realizing our incredible potential to solve problems and flourish. What’s it going to be, 2022? We’ve got our eyes on you.
Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com.