10:18:16 pm on
Sunday 15 Dec 2019

The Good Karma Year
David Simmonds

I went to my ophthalmologist for a test last week. I left the appointment holding an appointment card for my next visit, January 2020. This finally opened my eyes to the fact that a big bus stop year is almost upon us.


A bus stop year.

The next big bus stop, after 2020, will be 2050, if we make it that far. The last big bus stop was 2000, if we can remember that far back. Will the world regale or regret the looming bus stop year of 2020?

There is much good karma associated with next year. You know, 20-20-eyesight is the optimal vision, so let’s make this coming year as a year in which we think clearly about the future. Hindsight is 20-20, so let’s make the year of reflection and ask ourselves how we can collectively learn from our mistakes.

Hilarity will be found looking back at predictions for 2020 that were way off the mark; predictions that said by now we’d all be floating in our individual space bubbles, tooling off to Mars for the weekend. There will be no shortage of people jostling to make predictions about what lies ahead; after all, if you make enough predictions, some of them are bound to be right and people will only remember what you got right

I kind of like the idea of promoting 2020 as a year of reflection, a taking stock year in which we look both forward and backward, as long as it’s coupled with an effort to come out of it with some sort of planetary, national, regional, local, family or personal game plan. There is a difference between thinking the future is something that just happens to us, as a product of our past, and recognising we have a hand in determining it. If we have a game plan, we just might come closer to achieving that future than if we simply let it be.

Most effective organizations have a game plan, which is a product of time out from regular business and considered thought. They consider that you can only develop a good game plan after you have a clear idea what game you’re playing, why you are playing it, what environment you’re playing in, who you’re playing against and what your own strengths and weaknesses are.

Another way to ensure the taking stock is meaningful is to make it a civic process. We split into tribes, which have ceased to talk to one another; civilized discourse has become something you can only have with another person who feels the same way as you. The fact this isn’t so, does not make it less true. Somewhere along the way, we also became distrustful of expertise and lost our respect for facts. I won’t speculate as to which US president is most at fault for that.

A related reason for taking stock in a public way is the opportunity to address disengagement from each other and social life. Increasingly, we don’t answer our questions by thinking for ourselves and discussing them with others. We let Google answer.


We become passive and cocooned.

We think ourselves powerless. We don’t get involved with our communities and our communities don’t go out of their way to make engagement easy for us. We must want to engage and our governments must want to consult us. A collective taking stock process would provide an opportunity to improve the dynamic.

The problems we face, the old ones of poverty, hunger, violence, disease and nuclear annihilation as well as the news ones of climate change, mass migration and machine domination, demand a game plan, any one of them bring an existential threat to humanity. What is wrong with greater public discussion of these questions? What duty do I owe to my fellow men and women? What resource commitments are necessary make declarations of human rights meaningful?

Furthermore, by what standard do we determine to intervene to protect minorities in other countries facing persecution? Should we be compromising our standard of living still further to address inequality and suffering? Is our income tax structure too onerous and unfairly spread?

Should there be a worldwide wealth tax. How would governments administer it? Could governments administer it?

Is nuclear power the answer; are the leakage, storage and proliferation risks too daunting? Can we try to control the pace of technological progress; if so, how and why? Do we really want to live up to our Paris accord commitments; if so, are we doing enough to get there? Are we effectively condemning too many people to poverty by limiting economic migration? Public discussion of these issues, sharpened down, would be revelatory.

Some people might scoff and say using 2020 as a taking stock year will just be a licence for us to goof off and put off dealing with these big problems for another year. Yet, our failure to develop a game play will result in us dealing with crises on an ad hoc basis. Worse still, it may lead to more autocratic governance, as moves that are more draconian seem require. We can’t develop good game plans without a public taking stock.


Seize the moment.

Let’s take advantage of that good karma year in 2020. We can’t afford to wait 30 years. We’ll all be weekending on Mars by then.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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