For me personally, I can say with Frank Sinatra, “It was a very good year.” I got to travel a great deal and I got a contract for my second novel, “The Penalty for Holding,” about a gay, biracial quarterback’s search for identity in the NFL. An excerpt from the book will be published in the Westchester Review, and an essay I wrote on love, sex and gender in the work of Colombian artist Federico Uribe will be part of a new monograph on him. For all this, I’m truly grateful.
I begin with an attitude of gratitude in this the month of Thanksgiving, because in other ways I’ve been disenchanted and disheartened as many of those I have loved have faltered. Ryan Lochte. (I need not say more.) Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. (I’m not talking about his National Anthem protest but rather the precipitous decline in their play.) Novak Djokovic, who lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray in the most gracious of ways. Add Nick Kyrgios’ recent ban from the ATP tour for his continuing self-destructive behavior and Tim Tebow’s unwillingness to let go of a pro sports career and you see where I’m headed.
But all of these sports disappointments are the tip of the Titanic-sinking iceberg compared to these words:
What happened? How is it that I and so many in the media missed this train wreck coming down the track – to keep mixing my transportation metaphors?
Clearly, there are a lot more angry white people than I thought, as well as people looking at change for change’s sake. They’ll get that for sure. But it’s hard to imagine how a man with no interest in others beyond their ability to mirror his vaunted ego is going to restore them to their 1950s fantasy let alone grow jobs, protect the environment, promote world peace and make strides in education and the sciences. (Forget the arts. They sadly don’t even register.)
The Democrats and other Hillary Clinton supporters will hang FBI director James Comey out to dry for his passive-aggressive role in email-gate. They’ll look to a flawed candidate – the first woman to run for president on a major ticket – and see an electorate tired of the Clinton brand but apparently not tired of misogyny. They’ll also see the equally admired and vilified Barack Obama as a unique experiment, a harbinger of an America that is still to be.
But perhaps none of these can adequately explain the unmistakable, global tectonic shift. Brexit, the rejection of the peace deal in Colombia: These weren’t overwhelming mandates. They were narrow victories yet victories nonetheless of passion over reason, exclusivity over inclusion, fear over courage, intolerance over acceptance. They were solid indicators that the world is in a mean place right now.
But the world turns – if not today then tomorrow. And what appears to be change will soon be revealed to be stasis masquerading as transcendence. The markets will go down, but they will rise again. So will the sun.
So shall we.