Let’s go back two weeks. The time: in the wake of, shortly after, the Democratic Party members of the U.S. House of Representatives — all but three — voting to impeach President Donald Trump.
It was one week from Christmas. All of Christendom was preparing to celebrate the birth of the Savior. It was four days from the start of Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day celebration of thanksgiving in honor of Judah of Maccabee and his soldiers’ reclaiming the temple in Jerusalem around 200 B.C.
It was the time of year when most Americans were in the spirit of giving, charity, thanksgiving and love.
Those are four good words that would have been good to flash on the voting board on the House floor.
And any of them could make a good word for 2020.
Regular readers of this page know our tradition in the first edition of the new year. We commemorate a word — a single word to live by, to guide our direction and actions in the new year, to help inspire us year-round and to serve as a guidepost for what we as individuals or a community do in 2020.
We try to think of a word that is relevant to the mood and events of the times — to what is on the minds of Americans and, more importantly, perhaps a word that can help affect change for the better.
Last year’s word was chivalry. It fit the time — in the maelstrom of the #MeToo and toxic masculinity crises that swept the nation in 2018. That was a bad year for men.
And if you think back to then, America’s men needed to “man up” and turn the tide. What better way to do it in 2019 than to be chivalrous, and for fathers and mentors to teach boys to be chivalrous — like the knights of the Middle Ages (see page 18).
“Chivalry” fit the moment.
No ‘aha!’ moment
For 2020, settling on a word has been unlike other years. Usually, one word emerges naturally, but for 2020, there hasn’t been an aha! moment. Many words came to mind:
• Stop. As in “Stop it!” We’re talking about Congress. And let’s be honest, more specifically, we’re talking about the “Never Trump” Democrats. Watching and listening to the blowhard sanctimony coming out of Washington the past three years makes you want to go to Congress, stand at the podium on the House and Senate floors, look all of those lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — in the eyes and say what your mother barked at you when you misbehaved: “Stop it! Now!”
The American voters did not send all of you self-important big-shots to Washington to waste three years trying to undo the 2016 elections. Think about this: American taxpayers have paid the 50 senators and 435 House members $6,795,555,093 — $6.8 billion! — in salaries over the past three years to tear apart the fabric of the country and divide its citizens. Stop it.
But stop is not an inspiring word. It’s a negative. Scratch that one.
• Shout. As in stand firm for the first amendment and the right of free speech.
Everyone should be alarmed at the growing support for limiting free speech and amending the first amendment. Clearly, these are outgrowths of the Washington scene — Trump Derangement Syndrome on the left and Trump’s own unfiltered comments — and the takeover of American colleges by the extreme-left academia.
This is downright scary: When colleges students in a Gallup survey were asked whether free expression or diversity and inclusion is more important, “they tilt toward saying diversity and inclusion are. Students are as likely to favor campus speech codes as to oppose them. … Students do not believe the U.S. Constitution should protect hate speech, and they continue to support campus policies that restrict both hate speech and wearing stereotypical costumes.”
Shouting inflames a bad situation. But clearly, the alarming trend of inexperienced young people wanting to limit free speech — be it hate speech or not — calls for somehow reversing the brainwashing occurring in our schools and universities. That starts with educating at home. Or perhaps taking those students to Cuba, Venezuela, Hong Kong, North Korea, Iran or Russia to see first-hand what life is like when your right to speak (or practice religion) is denied.
Shout is out.
• Persevere. As in stand firm. Don’t give up. Push forward. Charge into the ’20s with a roar. Keep … going.
In all likelihood, if the past three years are a prelude, you know the next 11 months are going to be awful all the way to the 2020 presidential elections in November.
You know what to expect: A never-ending media avalanche of ugly, nasty, negative personal character assassinations that will make you so disgusted, you’ll say: “I’m sick of this. I’m done.”
The country is going to be in a bad mood for 11 months.
But don’t let yourself get sucked into the political vortex, locally or nationally. You can resist and rise above it.
Persevere is a good word.
There might be one word better than persevere.
The word is golden. As in Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
This has so many applications as we head into 2020.
To be sure, all of us love our country; it’s better than anyplace else. But no doubt you also are distressed by the divisions that have been tearing it apart. Living the Golden Rule can help turn the tide. It can help mend and heal the strife.
As a wise woman often told us: Always take the high road. Be the bigger person.
Or follow Thumper’s rule.
In Disney’s famous movie “Bambi,” Thumper, the little rabbit, tells his mother that the new-born Bambi “is kinda wobbly” and that “he doesn’t walk too good.”
To which Thumper’s mother and father tell him that old maxim, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Or perhaps do what the Chicago Cubs did the year they won the World Championship.
To rid themselves of the negative burden of always being losers, at spring training that year, Cub players adopted a new winner’s attitude. Whenever a player did something extraordinary, the players reinforced it by telling one another, “That’s Cub!” — the winning way. It became infectious and ingrained.
We can spread the winning way with the word golden. When you’re treated well, or people do a good job, let them know: “You’re golden.”
A little often goes a long way. Make 2020 a golden year.