Dear 2021 (and more for the New Year)

By Don Rush

Dec. 31, 2020
Dear 2021, I am excited about your arrival — now only a few hours away. I look forward to making your acquaintance!
If I am to be honest with you, your predecessor really kinda sucked. The Year 2020 was one I was ready to usher out. Since I have yet to meet you, I wanted to give you a heads up before you take up the reins as the New Year in charge. You can make a ton of friends if you are just a little nicer than 2020.
For all our sakes, I wish you well and good luck — you’re gonna’ need it! — Don
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For 2021, I wish you all love, and peace. I wish the tribalism we find ourselves mired in, fades away.
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One of my favorite quotes for a new year is the following. Except last year, I don’t think anyone had a bright idea.
Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.
— Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
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For the year after 2020, I have one request of everyone (including me): Be a positive force for good for yourself, those about you and the world in general. This is a rant where I usually focus on “is what you are doing right now helping the situation or hurting it?” Is what you are saying “right now” for the good or not.
Is talking about somebody behind their back or making fun of them a bad or hurtful thing if that person doesn’t know you’re talking about them?
Is it a good thing or bad?
Do gossip and cattiness help anybody or does it just make the insecure feel better?
Another example could be at any job site in the good ol’ U. S. of A when something doesn’t go right. I’ve come to the conclusion most folks in America these days want only to whine and assess blame. “It was her fault.” “He didn’t do this right.” Around and around it goes. We can be so caught up in casting blame, we don’t stop for a second and think how to solve a problem and get the job done.
We’re like children, wanting everything handed to us on silver platers and when things don’t go our way — like children — we pout and point fingers. We need to be more like a Marine: adapt, overcome.
In other words, be a positive force for good.
Remember, running up to somebody while they’re eating and yelling at them, is not being a force for good. It is being a thug. Throwing a brick through a plate glass window is not being a force for good. It is being a vandal.
I often tell my sons, “Even when I am dead and gone, if you don’t know what you should do, ask and I will answer. It will always be the same thing. Do what’s right.”
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I think in 2021, I also hope we stop being stupid. This request has nothing to do with inherited intelligence quotients and has everything to do with street smarts. If you’re street smart, you’re observant. And because you watch, you listen, you feel — you can smell a con a mile away, or at least soon enough to be suckered.
I have been known to lecture my sons. Said I, “Smart men (and women) can be stupid.”
My wish for us all is that we get over playing the victim and following like sheep.
In my lecture to my sons, “Learn to learn. Connect the dots. Don’t be so full of yourself to think you know it all.”
Yeah, that’s kinda preachy, so I will add:
“It’s okay to change your mind as long as it is based on new and better information.”
For 2021, if I had a wish for everyone, it is for us all to learn the value of being critical thinkers and not to be sucked in by the loudest mouth or the easiest or most popular position to take. As they need to challenge assumptions of others, so too should they challenge themselves.
There’s a quote attributed to the late actor John Wayne which sums it up quite nicely: “Life is hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid.”
. . . Oh, and who is Georg Christoph Lichtenberg? He was a German from the 1700’s. One of 17 children, he was also a hunchback, scientist, satirist and would-be philosopher.
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Happy New Year, 2021! Here’s hoping you’re a better year than the last.
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