My friend Walt Shepperd, when he used to share this space with the late Karen DeCrow in alternate issues of the New Times, lamented on the difficulty of keeping time in 14 day increments.
“Nothing happens every two weeks,” said Walt, who still writes for us whenever we can coax him out of his Gifford Street lair.
Things happen every day, every hour, every week and every month. The beauty of the seven-day work week is that it gives you a chance to organize your plans and your thoughts, to look forward and to look back, and to decide what matters, and which of the many competing thoughts, actions and ideas that have come your way are worth your continued attention, and which ones skip off back into space. And then Sunday comes, and you get up and do it all over again.
When you put together 52 weeks, you take a great big breath and think through the past year and into the weeks to come.
The great privilege of writing this column is that I get to listen to so many of you. It doesn’t matter as much whether we agree or not, but my hope is that we are moving some sort of conversation forward. My favorite readers are conservative Republican friends who enjoy the conversation and are willing to challenge me as I challenge them. The least interesting folks are the kind who assume that they can infer what I think about abortion or fracking from what I say about racism or police brutality. If Sanity Fair had a motto, it would be this: I don’t care what you think, but I do care that you think.
Come 2015, I’ll be continuing the Sanity Fair column, but for at least a few months I’ll be laying down my reporter’s notebook and turning my attention to a long-delayed book project. When spring comes, I’m hoping to be back covering stories of interest to you, so keep those sharp questions and story ideas in mind, you can always send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or pass them on to New Times editor Larry Dietrich at email@example.com.
A Difficult, but Interesting 2014
It would be easy to call this a difficult year.
New York City buries two young police officers. Eric Garner’s family cries for justice. Our troops creep back into Iraq and spread into Syria to chase ISIL as the “war on terror” becomes a war without end. Our own county feels more and more like it is governed by an invisible apartheid, and the people we put out on the front lines of that divide are the ones we need the most: our teachers and police officers.
Yet, if we think back to January, who could have pictured a year ending with New York banning hydrofracking and the Obama administration embracing relations with Cuba? This was the year in which gay marriage became so common as to be boring, and many Immigrants long part of our community breathe free without the threat of deportation and being separated from their families.
Find a Teacher, and, say “Thank You”
If I got to nominate a Person of the Year (and I don’t), it would be no contest. It would be the Syracuse city school teacher.
The teacher’s work epitomizes the hope for our community and the many hurdles we must clear. Teachers straddle the many fault lines that divide us, and many of them feel that they do it with minimal support. Too much of what we read about teachers has to do with how we evaluate them, criticize them or compensate them. But the truth is they hold our city together, they nurture our children as they educate them and they give endlessly of their time and energy.
Whenever I feel like I’m losing hope, I think of the teachers I know who get up every day and go to work. There is no harder job. There is no role more essential. Today, we should simply thank them. Rest up, teachers. Soon it will be time to get back to work.
Quote of the Year
Looking back on 2014, my favorite quote was from the Rev. Fred Daley, a Syracuse priest who has been open about his own sexuality (gay) and his choices (celibate) for many years. He serves a community at All Saints Church that includes many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, people who haven’t always felt they had a spiritual home. Daley spoke in the midst of a Vatican gathering that tried, but ultimately failed, to put forth a more open attitude toward gay life for the worldwide church. Using a squishy but compelling metaphor, Daley said:
“You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”
I’ll take it.