What difference does a new year make? What real change does the clock ticking over at midnight on January 31st produce? How is it different than any other midnight?
I've been a New Years skeptic, and I see a lot of my friends (and quite a bit of social media) talking about how traumatic 2018 was. There are a lot of us who, in our rational minds, know there is little hope of change in 2019, that things are going to get worse before they get better. The news is full of this: a government shutdown, children dying in federal custody after being taken by agents at the border, high numbers of homelessness, an increasingly mentally unstable president taking to Twitter in rage overnight when most people are sound asleep.
I had plans for New Years Eve. It was the first time in years I'd gotten tickets to an event. And Cay called from work, afraid to drive home because she was so sick. So I hitched a ride to the store, and found her feverish and shaking. Today we're still trying to control her fever. She didn't go to the doctor yesterday because her medical insurance didn't kick in until today. She can't go today because it's closed, and won't go to urgent care because she has a deductible on her insurance which is too high to pay before her co-payments kick in... and she has to pay for this insurance, almost $100/ month on her part time sales salary.
Today it's Tylenol and fluids and rest for her, but long term, it doesn't solve the problem of her healthcare and insurance costs. Although we have these benefits in theory, and some coverage in case of something catastrophic, our day to day lives are unchanged by the turning of the clock.
There are still hate groups in the nation threatening our safety. There are still homeless. We are still heading toward catastrophic climate change. The government is still in shut down (for a few more days, at least) and even when they come back, it'll be months before any changes can go into effect, any progress made, if any at all is attempted.
So in all this doom and gloom, what does the turning of the year matter?
Last night I watched the ball drop in New York City, I woke Cay up to watch with me, knowing no matter how sick she was, she'd want to see that. And just before midnight, all those people sang along with Bebe Rexha: John Lennon's Imagine. THOUSANDS of people, swaying, holding hands, full of love and hope and with their mind on one thing: The coming of the new year, the sharing of community at this one pivotal moment when the ball reached the bottom of the track in Times Square, and the year became new and unsullied and full of possibility, at least in their minds and hearts.
It is a moment of hope in a time of hopelessness.
And seeing all those people sharing in that hope, knowing they were not all holding the same political, religious or cultural ideologies, not all the same ethnicity or gender, that there in Times Square and across the nation watching on TVs and computers and smart phones, possibly singing along to Imagine, a cross section of American culture was sharing in this one moment of hope....
well, it made a believer out of me.