The Common Good
January 2014

Getting Real for the New Year

by Ed Spivey Jr. | January 2014

Don't make promises you can't keep.

THIS IS OUR first issue of the new year, and with the new year comes new challenges, new hopes, and new promises which, in order of appearance, you may not live up to, will probably fail to realize, and may never keep. Fortunately, this January issue comes out in early December, several weeks before most self-delusions begin to surface, so there’s still time to change them all, thus saving face. And here in Washington, D.C., saving face is very important. Living up to challenges, not so much. But saving face? We understand.

So let’s get started with turning your future failures into successes and your future frowns into smiles, which are just frowns turned upside down, depending on whether you’re standing on your head at the time.

The point is, you don’t have to make the same mistakes again this year, because we can stop your resolutions before you make them. We can nip failure in the bud, because failure is just eruliaf turned upside down. Or possibly backward. Regardless, following is a short list of things you may have pledged to do this year. Think again.

Lose weight. Right. Sure. Whatever. Not going to happen. So stand up straight and hold your stomach in until your friends walk by. Then breathe. And remember: You’re not too fat. You’re just too short.

Stop reading tabloids at the checkout counter. Maybe this is the year you finally pick up Prevention magazine instead, even though the people in the pictures look physically, mentally, and spiritually better than you. But don’t do it. Put it back on the rack, next to the gum named after nuclear submarines and galactic anomalies. Because Prevention just doesn’t offer the important news you need: namely, that celebrities are worse off than you. So open up the Enquirer and see how aging film stars look on the beach. There. Don’t you feel better now?

Sign up for Obamacare. You’ve tried, honestly you have. And you intend to again this year. But the website just isn’t as much fun as watching, well, anything on YouTube. But don’t worry about it. Eventually Obamacare will contact you, maybe with a nice note from the IRS.

Start tapping Angela Merkel’s cellphone again. You know you want to. And you’ve certainly missed listening in on Europe’s most powerful woman, even though the majority of conversations were extremely unclassified. You listened closely for Germany’s stance on Iran sanctions, but all you heard were complaints about her husband’s cooking. (This guy really likes schnitzel.) And then you stopped when you got caught, didn’t you? So let’s keep it that way.

Be a Somali pirate. Granted, who wouldn’t want to ride in a speeding boat while waving an assault rifle in a threatening manner? It’s probably a good look for you. But now, if you try to board a commercial vessel with ill intent, the crew could broadcast Britney Spears songs at you. Real loud.

Seriously. And apparently it’s working. British shipping officials report that songs like “Hit Me Baby One More Time” not only offend the religious sensibilities of Muslim pirates, but they also remind them that Ms. Spears had 20 songs on Billboard’s Top 100 and they’ve only heard the first one. So they turn around. (Everyone knew that Britney’s music was offensive—on so many levels—but who knew it could be weaponized?) So this year, if you really want to be a pirate, wave an assault rifle over your head in the privacy of your own home. You can pretend that whoever is taking a bath is actually in a container ship traversing dangerous waters. Then you can order them to “come about,” which is a nautical term for “make sure you clean the hair out of the drain.”

Lock in Las Vegas for the 2016 GOP convention. Probably not your call, but somebody out there is seriously thinking about it, and the Vegas Chamber of Commerce has launched a major campaign to that end. But consider this: What would you get if you combined the party of family values with the values of a 24-hour party? In chronological order:

• Lots of selfies from Republican leaders having too much fun with their cellphones.

• Heartfelt apologies on Twitter, ghost-written by aides (because Republican leaders are still having too much fun).

So think again about that Sin City convention. Because these days, what happens in Vegas only actually stays in Vegas when the internet shuts down for the evening. 

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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