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2012, Year of the Aspens?


It is with a morbid curiosity that we face the upcoming New Year. Not because of a cartoonish version of prophecy. No, it’s a visceral knowing that many wrong and untenable creations are still alive and they threaten every thread in the fabric of what we know. And it’s inevitable to reflect when a New Year is looming. I never quite understood why New Year’s didn’t fall on the very first day after the winter solstice. The days lengthen at that moment, hope beckons, but with our calender there is that lag, and during this lag week that we find ourselves in now, there is time to consider what awaits.

It’s not to say that it is an entirely terrible thing that much of this seems ready to topple- we’ve been complacent and ugly in the protection of our way of life. Even if we don’t make the cruel decisions, much comfort is derived at the expense of others. A mounting debt, not of the fiscal kind, swirls on our horizon. Oddly our way of life really doesn’t seem to make us anything but medicated, fat and plastic. And then shocked into a stunned puddle as it is inevitably stripped away, one by one- lay-off or medical bill- chose your middle class poison. Deeply felt emotions are difficult to mine these days unless they are rage or crippling depression.

Flirting notions of change could lead to a world more of our making– or an explosion of all that we find stifling and unholy. Collective hearts beat in unison, but we mistake the sound as being ours alone. I’m scared and I know others are too, even if shaded by a ridiculous attempt at immortality via consumerism, our version of mummification. Encase yourself in purchased crap, live forever. Canopic jars encase us while alive. But they were purchased at Pottery Barn 1/2 off!

In this year we have seen previously inconceivable issues like the indefinite detention of Americans being considered and soon, likely implemented. The last pretense of a government for the people was dissolved. They no longer even feel the need to maintain the fairy tale notions. It’s quite clear now.

A nation striving towards a linear future, one of growth and enlightenment is now fully evident as shadow and lie. Those paying attention knew this prior, of course. Exponential growth is not possible, and there is no linear movement of humanity- as our descent into unhappiness and continuous strife prove. We are not a nation that looks to the sky, we look down to our wallets. We allowed them tell us that things like income or credit scores measured our true worth in these last decades. We wasted time listening to people like this, and some planned careers to fulfill artificial ideals of success. This will ultimately prove to be as valuable as how many hearts the Aztecs carved out on a particular day so long ago. And now, those that fall to the side are thought to be weak, thought to be lacking, when really they just scare everyone….that unguarded moment of compassion allows our collective roots to be felt. It’s but a blink of the eye we are here, but they distract us from that fact and keep us in line, raging tickers flood our minds with nonsense.

We don’t voice love to each other even when we feel it as strongly as a knife. 

Some may say that it has always been so. That humans will always fall to the base of their nature and we are the culmination of this imperfect death impulse. The sleepwalk to doom is the easier path.

But when asked “What was the first sign of civilization?” Margaret Mead answered “A healed human leg bone.” So where was the profit in that? From these healers we find our ancestors. Cooperation without which we probably wouldn’t be here. There are still healers in our nature, but they have been hiding. We feel a need to be punished and the new year looks poised to do just that.

A clown show of politicians, ready to be popped out of the Mattel box will bleed us as they smile this coming year. Whether it will be the fraudulent hope in place or a new fraud matter little. The reality is such that they will continue to pull against humanity and the veil is certainly not lifted for most. The Occupy movement is a luscious and beautiful spark, but it’s not evident yet if it has the power to unravel so many years of propaganda, so many years of greed. This nation started with a premise- that of individual enrichment and worked backwards with philosophies to support that. It’s a tall order to dismantle a framework of bones such as that.

But it’s not to say it’s impossible. Truth and beauty have a power of their own, and this leaves me wondering. What is possible? Our mere existence is improbable. We are facing the end of an Empire, the end of easily obtainable resources to power it all- though we aren’t there yet, I suspect those in power are anticipating the upcoming difficulty in obtaining valuables like fresh water and fossil fuels and they are trying to solidify a feudal world before the fact. It’s likely we will know by the end of 2012 if they are going to easily obtain this goal they seek. How easy will we make it for them?

With fear, love and solidarity I wish you the best of 2012. Because like a stand of Aspens, we all hold the same fate- our roots locked in embrace during our shared moments of this short life. Let us be brave and kind through this New Year, whatever it may bring.

Kathleen Peine writes out of the US Midwest and can be contacted at


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