Last week a friend, a regular Spy reader, asked me a troubling question: Why do I focus so much on the negative? As examples, he pointed to my “fixation” on the defeated ex-president, my nickname for the Congressman from the First District of Maryland, and, reaching back a few years, my hatred of gas-powered leaf blowers. He suggested that I try to be positive in my last piece of the year.
I told my friend I would try but declined his bet that I could not write 600 words without a relapse.
My first thought was to celebrate things to be grateful for that occurred in the year about to end, but I abandoned that idea quickly in favor of looking forward rather than backwards. That is what optimists do, right?
Here are my wishes for the new year:
An end to the war in Ukraine with a Ukrainian victory. Everyone wants that, right? Well, maybe not Putin.
Good health for President Biden. He exceeded my expectations in 2022 by demonstrating an abundance of energy, integrity, and commitment. For everyone’s sake, I hope that continues.
Continued progress on racial justice and equity. We seem to be headed in the right direction, but I worry about the Supreme Court and one of the two major political parties. My hope is that racial justice and equity remain a top national priority.
No recession in 2023. As the year ends, we see some progress on lower inflation, but signs of a recession are increasing. My hope is that the economy defies history and remains strong.
A fair, humane resolution to the immigration crisis. It is painful to admit that illegal immigration is a crisis, but it is. My hope is that a bipartisan solution can be found that respects the dignity of migrants and establishes a fair, workable, immigration process.
Further relief from COVID. The pandemic is increasingly under control, which is wonderful. Fewer people are dying. Life is returning to a maskless normal. My hope is that new variants of the virus do not set us back and everyone gets their booster shots. We do not need another 2021.
Progress in the war on drug addiction. I am thinking not only about the Eastern Shore, but nationally. My hope is simple—fewer people suffering from addiction and better resources for those who do.
Somewhat related to the war on drug addiction, is the need for more accessible quality mental health resources. Millions of Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. This epidemic must be acknowledged as a national crisis. My hope is that the need for accessible (affordable) mental health resources is recognized and acted upon.
A rational House of Representatives. This hope is important given the razor thin Republican majority and so many extremists in the GOP. Hoping for rational leadership in the House is a heavy lift. That does not mean I cannot hope for it. We need political stability.
Fewer “weather events.” The Eastern Shore was lucky in 2022. We did not suffer a major hurricane. Of course, nationally, I also hope for fewer “bomb cyclones,” Nor’easters, hurricanes, forest fires, tornados, record heat waves, and wind chills below zero.
A better life for all animals. All living things deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, including farm animals. My hope is for more humane treatment of all animals, including pets, wildlife, and farm animals.
More enlightened development on the Eastern Shore. If the lifestyle that we love on the Eastern Shore is going to survive, we need rational development that does not overwhelm our schools, hospitals, sewage treatment capability, and roads. Our leaders need to say “no” to growth for the sake of growth. I hope this happens.
Continued growth of the arts on the Eastern Shore. Earlier this year I listened to Joshua Bell in a 200-seat venue in Easton (The Prager Family Arts Center). More please. Focusing on Easton (because it is convenient to my home), I congratulate the Avalon Theater, Chesapeake Music, Plein Air, and the Waterfowl Festival. My hope is that these organizations continue their commitment to excellence.
Can I include a few personal hopes?
Good health for myself, family, and friends. I hope for good health for everyone. May everyone eat healthier, get more exercise, and have full access to quality healthcare.
Great books and movies. There can never be too many.
More crabs and rockfish. That requires a healthy Chesapeake Bay. I do not want to pay $65 for a pound of jumbo lump crab. My hope is that I will not have to.
More safe bicycle lanes. I see more bicycles on the Eastern Shore every year. I would like to see still more. My hope is that somehow, we develop a safer way to cross routes 322 and 50 by bicycle. I would also love to see more dedicated bicycle trails.
One final hope. I hope the Eastern Shore will continue to support The Spy and the important work of our community newspaper.
Happy New Year. May yours be safe and healthy.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.