By editorial board • 

2021 was year best forgotten; let’s commit to better in 2022

Lest we forget, the year 2021, set to crawl into the recesses of richly deserved ignominy as the midnight hour strikes tonight, opened with high hopes.

A national and international vaccine rollout promised to put the deadly pandemic of 2020 behind us at last, to our everlasting relief. The most corrosive and divisive president in American history had, it seemed, been banished from the bully pulpit, restoring a semblance of normalcy to our body politic. Wages were rising and the economy seemed well on its way to recovery from its pandemic-induced doldrums.

Despite a rising tide of street crime and gun violence, and ugly vestiges of sexism, racism and homophobia we thought we had put to eternal rest, there was cause for optimism.

Just days into the new year, though, insurrectionists acting on the delusions of their defeated leader nearly toppled our republic. The pandemic roared back to life on the wings of highly contagious Delta and Omicron variants, invigorated through misguided mask and vaccine resistance. And the economic resurgence threatened to run aground on the shoals of inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions.

Closer to home, it was, in the main, more of the same.

Oregon, locked in extreme drought, saw its parched terrain ravaged by a series of devastating forest fires. And the rising pace of climate change left little cause for optimism, at least on the short-term horizon.

Locally, we lost the likes of Rose Marie Caughran, Joe Crabtree, Ted Lopuszynski, Maria Stuart, Frank Messina, Mary Martin and Beverly Cleary, who made this world a better place by their very presence. All too often, we saw rising in their stead the likes of County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer, State Rep. Mike Nearman and the Newberg School Board’s infamous gang of four, who seemed bent on reversing all vestiges of progress our society had made in the last 50 years.

On other fronts, an ice storm wreaked havoc in January. The Organic Valley Creamery succumbed to a spectacular fire. The Yamhelas Westsider Trail fell victim to partisan politics. Linfield University suffered torrents of largely self-inflicted turmoil.

There was so much to lament, one is tempted to fall back on old saws of the ilk: “Things couldn’t get much worse”; “It’s all uphill from here”; and “Our luck has to change.” We’re due a break, right?

Truth be told, none of us is really very good at peering into the future. Professional fortune-tellers are just trying to make a quick buck off the unsuspecting, and the rest of us have gone wrong too often to muster much conviction.

But we do have some opportunities to change the course of local affairs in significant ways this coming year, starting with an apparent trio of recall elections. And the primary and general elections to follow could change the course of state, national and international affairs as well.

Alternatively, the balloting of 2022 could serve to lock in the current state of political, social and cultural retrenchment. It could even serve, heaven forbid, to end the American democracy we’ve fought so hard to create and sustain over the last 250 years.

By almost every measure, our collective future lies in our collective hands. Here’s hoping we can rise to the challenge of marching forward, not backward, and make 2022 a pivot point for better times.


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