Looking back at 2021 and ahead to stories that might be big in 2022.
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ― G.K. Chesterton
Looking back at 2021:
1) Scot Turner and I chatted about some of Georgia’s top stories of 2021, some thoughts on 2022, and some bold predictions for the New Year. Watch the latest edition of the Peach Pundit Podcast here.
2) Several scholars and fellows at the American Enterprise Institute list their favorite books of 2021. Meanwhile, Commentary Magazine spent the week talking about their favorite books, movies, television, of 2021 as well as a review of the culture wars in the previous year.
3) 538 collected their favorite charts of 2021 - very interesting stuff in that list. Georgia appeared twice, both charts dealt with our January 5, 2021 runoffs for U.S. Senate, which tossed the Senate into a 50-50 tie (and gave President Biden the idea that he’s FDR and LBJ wrapped up into one lovable Uncle). Here’s one of the Georgia charts, for those who doubt talk of a “rigged and stolen election” depressed Republican votes.
Looking forward to 2022:
4) Are we headed toward a new “dark ages?” A thought provoking article by author Joel Kotkin worries that several cultural trends are leading us down a depressing path. Give it a read.
This loss of a common culture and the sense of the past undermines the coherence of society. The idea that someone from another time, conditioned in a separate set of values, might have something to say seems increasingly rare. To be sure British people need to understand the cruelties of empire, but also to celebrate their enormous historic achievements. Cancelling the genius of an island civilisation is a crime against common culture. The enslavement or genocides committed in the settling of North America or Australia should be taught, but so too should the fact that these places provided better lives for settlers and their offspring who number in the hundreds of millions.
We are in danger of returning to a new Dark Ages, when ‘the very mind of man was going through degeneration’, as Henri Pirenne put it, cut off from the traditions and values of our civilisational past (3). If one doesn’t know the foundational principles of our democracy, including individual freedom and open discussion, one is not likely to recognise when they are lost.
Regaining a sense of pride in Western culture and its achievements – while remaining open to newcomers and influences from elsewhere – is essential to recovering the ambition and self-confidence that drove the West’s ascent, from the Age of Exploration to the Space Age. A civilisation can survive only if its members, particularly those with the greatest influence, believe in its basic values.
5) Will Russia invade Ukraine in 2022? More people are worried they will, and soon. Read this thread on Twitter:
6) Perhaps the most underreported story of 2021 was the impact of “zoom school” on our nation’s kids. Sadly, as I type, school leaders across the county are going back to remote learning as the omicron variant rages. Yet, data is pouring in showing just how far kids have fallen behind since March of 2020, when lockdowns went into effect (see here and here for two recent reports). While we all want kids and educators to be healthy and safe, we now have readily available vaccines, and treatments for folks who get sick to address those concerns. We owe it to our students to keep the school doors open. In 2022, political and school leaders must step up and craft plans to reverse the staggering learning loss that took place in 2020-2021, and deal with the mental health issues kids are dealing with now.