The month of January, many scholars believe to be
named for the ancient Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings,
endings and transitions, who looked to both the future and the past.
Many cultures set aside time to celebrate new beginnings, yet seldom
has a new year held so many implications not only for the U.S., but
for the world. With the election of Donald J. Trump as President of
the United States, it is not only U.S. citizens, but much of the
world which wonders what it will mean to make America Great Again.
The motto “Make America Great Again” appears to focus on a renewal
of optimism, the busy hum of industry and infrastructure projects as
well as the energy of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Yet some have interpreted “Again” as a reference to a past where
privilege is reserved for the few. The past is also often
romanticized; within our own families, we are often taught not to
speak ill of the dead and to remember only the good times, thus
creating an illusion that the past was more perfect than our own
times. In reality, the past containsall the deeds of humankind, some
of which make our spirits soar, others which make us shudder. It is
only the future which holds the tantalizing prospect of harmonious
human relations and surely I am not the first to wonder if it will
ever be possible to be inspired by only the good from the past and
incorporate it into our future.
In high school I had a teacher who would frequently say to the
class “Never reduce yourself to someone else’s level.” This struck a
chord and I realized that responding to poor behavior in kind
ultimately diminishes oneself.
Therefore, the good news is that the idyllic world in which we
would like to live is for us to create; it never fully existed in
the past, but if we carefully examine history, we can carry the
positive attributes forward as we travel through time to a more