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Let's tear down these walls of fear and ignorance 

"Hope springs eternal." It is really all that can sustain us when truth is no longer of value. We are now left to cope with the consequence of a traumatic 2017, with all of its destructive shouts and actions as well as the few constructive ones. Most of us, however, are capable of logic, forethought, compassion, and empathy. Thus "hope springs eternal" for a humane, safe, sane, healthy, and happy New Year!

It has been 33 years, but we seem to have finally attained a frighteningly close facsimile of George Orwell's 1984 society (which he wrote back in 1949, 68 years ago). You may recall that his fictitious government advocates three basic slogans—in Newspeak: War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength. The novel's hero, Winston Smith, works on lies at the Ministry of Truth where he doctors historical records to show a government-approved version of historical events. Amazingly predictive for today's accusations of "fake news" and the persecution of a free press.

Smith attempts to scale the dominating walls of ignorance, fear, and bigotry that control his life. Crashing through these barriers also seems to be today's primary challenge for 2018 and beyond. The entire construct of walls is a fitting metaphor for the political trauma that has dominated every one of these past 365 days! These are the same walls that are blocking many efforts to promote human progress—global warming, arms control, sustainable agriculture, housing, education, land conservation, sexual harassment, affordable national health care, and discrimination.

The construction of walls requires the gathering and bonding of many components. Walls generally do not emerge as complete monoliths. They are comprised of smaller individual parts, i.e., earth, brick, wood, stone, gravel, grains of sand, etc. If these component parts refuse to bond together, then the wall cannot stand. If we disallow the entire construct of lies, separation, and confinement, remaining true to our values, then the walls of ignorance, fear, and bigotry will gradually collapse. So let us raise our glasses and optimistically welcome 2018!

Paul Wolff - San Luis Obispo

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