When I was a kid one of the local television stations had a Friday night program called Weird. It came on after the ten o’clock news and featured mostly B grade science fiction movies that were great fun to watch. I rarely missed an opportunity to stay up late viewing Godzilla monsters and aliens from outer space. I suspect that my taste for stranger things began way back then, and my interest in the truly wild and ridiculous has never abated, which brings me to last year when the world appeared to lurch forward into some of the most improbable situations since I watched those apocalyptic films of my youth.
I have to admit that I have not yet grown accustomed to the disquieting nature of the tweets from our president. I find myself uncertain as to whether his outrageous boasts are the product of a madman or a genius. Just when I think that I have heard it all from him, he performs the astonishing trick of outdoing himself with an audacity that is both concerning and sadly amusing. I truly wonder if his antics with regard to the certifiable leader of North Korea will result in war or somehow manage to protect us in a twisted way. I seriously don’t know what to make of his put downs and ignorant commentaries and I find myself searching the news each morning to determine the latest flap from the most recent tweets. I suppose that I should be somewhat immune after an entire year of such commentaries but I never fail to be astounded, which may in fact be the president’s intent. He certainly gets noticed and makes it virtually impossible for me or anyone else to follow the old dictum of ignoring bad behavior and rewarding good to condition an individual to adopt the proper ways of doing things.
Last year was not only weird because of the audacious rants of the leader of the free world, but even Mother Nature decided to act out. It was definitely a record year for natural disasters that ran the gamut from devastating floods to horrifying fires. It was as though we humans lost all control and were put in our place by climate gone wild, and the churlishness continues with one of the coldest winters in recent years. I feel certain that someone with a bent for writing science fiction is already imagining a great story about our dramatic weather and the chaos it has been inflicting on us. It is as though the natural world is asserting itself and letting us know that we are not as in control as we often assume that we are. I’ve always believed that we need to show a bit more respect for our planet and its workings and maybe that was the message that we were sent last year.
I have to admit that all of the revelations about sexual harassment were a bit strange as well. So many people toppled from their pedestals of power in such a short time. I’m a bit befuddled as to why it suddenly became in vogue to actually listen to victims and chastise offenders so swiftly and uniformly. We’ve literally ignored the pleas in the past and were more likely to accuse the accusers of lying while protecting the accused. While I think that it is good that we are ferreting out some of these horrendous abusers I worry a bit that in the frenzy there will be some innocents unfairly losing their reputations. I think it is important that we be careful that we are a nation based on the idea that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Our rush to judgement must indeed continue to be based on the law. It’s wonderful that we are finally willing to listen to those who have been mistreated, but we must also give pause to an instinct to accept all stories without benefit of proof. I certainly don’t want to return to days when people courageous enough to step forward were thrown under the bus, but it’s never good either to automatically assume guilt.
We had some very strange news stories last year including one in which a group of researchers asserted their confidence that there are indeed aliens living in the universe with us and we are moving ever closer to meeting them one day. Then there was the shooting in Las Vegas which was horrific in every imaginable way including the fact that there was no sign of a motivating force for the perpetrator. Everything about that incident was incredibly odd. The same might be said regarding the rallies in Charlottesville that ended in death and mayhem as Alt right groups marched through the streets carrying tiki torches and Nazi flags. It was an ugly sight by anyone’s standards made even more concerning by the fact that far too many actually found excuses for the actions.
Weirdness can be entertaining but the kind we had last year made me wonder if those old movies depicting the end of civilization as we know it were a bit prescient. As long as we are unable to unite in pursuit of peace and justice it feels as though we are set squarely in the middle of The Twilight Zone. The annual marathon of that iconic series somehow didn’t feel as farfetched this year given the real life strangeness of 2017. I’m crossing my fingers that 2018 will provide us with a break from all of the craziness, but I find myself fearing that we are in for another bumpy ride as long as the Middle East remains in a state of chaos and Rocket Man and the One with Orange Hair spar over who has the biggest nuclear button. I’d choose to just laugh at the antics if the stakes were not so high. It only takes one false move to send the world into flames and create the kind of dystopia that was the stuff of those old movies on Weird that I so enjoyed.
I suppose if I have one wish, one prayer, it is that the people of the world find ways to come together to end the hatefulness and violence. I suppose that we ordinary folk have been silent for far too long. The good citizens of Alabama showed us how to harness the power of good, and we need to seize the moment. The message that we must send is that we have grown weary of being the pawns in a weird story produced by leaders who only seem to want to constantly argue. A bit of calm and boring security is all that we really desire. Here’s hoping that we find it this year.