I see it on the faces of everyone I talk to. The war wearied look of two years and three months since life changed. As we peer into a fall in which COVID continues to roar along and many I know who had dodged it are now catching it, life-February-2020-style feels more distant than ever.
It’s 3 a.m. and I’m on Twitter impatiently refreshing, looking for news from Ukraine. I check over on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s account, too, looking for signs he’s still alive and Russia hasn’t managed to find him yet. Probably a lot of you reading this are doing the same. Death looms large this Ash Wednesday, situated amidst the first global-level conflict of the Internet era.
So. We’re three days from Christmas. These last couple of years the holiday, like everything else, has gotten a bit deflated as two presidents and a lot of medical bureaucrats, liking the feel of unexpected power, have succumbed to the irresistible compulsion to do something, whether it was advisable or not. The effects were troubling to some people more than they were to me, because for a number of years now I’ve enjoyed low-key Christmas celebrations.
Reeling from the horrors of 9/11 two decades ago, we entered Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist camps and also try to build a better nation for the people who had been caught under the Taliban’s control. Was it hubris or hope to think we could lastingly accomplish either goal? I’ll leave that discussion for another day, but this week has reminded us of how even our greatest powers stumble.