May We Have… Oh Let Us Have, a Happy New Year! - Tony Weller
Happy New Year everyone! I wish I could make it a magic spell. What will it take to achieve a Happy 2018? Booksellers are merchants of dreams and knowledge; and readers’ minds are made of what they choose. I have found durable wisdom in books of widely varied topics, and from every geographic region or era. No one person, or period or culture has all answers, and none has none. Readers expect to find wisdom in philosophical, psychological, sociological or religious works. When I think I find good wisdom, I compose it into nutshells and store in mental pockets. All things are connected and Zen taught me that even a stone can teach. You’d be surprised what gems are found in cookbooks and music books.
Hopefully, present paroxysms of fear are nothing more than ante-mortem dementia. Our contentious history caused our ancestors to mistrust difference. Mores became laws. Habit and custom were simplified to dogma. Maybe that was enough then, but in the modern blended era some of us are excited to embrace the full chaotic range of human culture. We envision a world of peace where poverty and accumulation of wealth are small. We ask technology to serve life instead of commerce. The two forms of profit, money and time, must be shared to reap sage benefit from science. Consumption must be balanced with need and waste minimized to stop building mountains and islands out of our refuse.
How can we calm those who feel threatened by difference? A good start would be removing the causes of their fears. Desperation causes the worst animal behavior. Societal change comes very slowly – some social scientists have measured rates and degrees of ossifying thought. For many it becomes rigid by the age of 30. Even self-consciously doubtful persons are conditioned to defend established beliefs rather than questioning. We cling to the familiar, even when it is harmful to our own interests.
Books tempered me and gave me a few cognitive tricks that improve my moments and days but no mental magic can overcome reality. Happy New Year? It will be harder if we are battling bizarre weather. Climate change is real – to deny it is stubborn foolishness. And anyhow, why not wish for more, like Happy Decade or Happy Life? Maybe Happy World. Let us project sustainable ideals. Short-term interests hurt our world in so many ways. Wall Street’s quarterly measures are a main cause of this social pathology. Extreme accumulation of wealth is almost never possible without exploiting others. Our society should shun such greed. Disagree? Prepare food for four and give all to one. Ask others to watch. I believe it would make you all feel terrible. America presently measures the widest wealth gap between rich and poor since WWII. Until our least privileged citizens are fed, housed, educated, safe and healthy, I cannot muster enough American pride to say Happy New Year without admonition.
Good resolutions for 2018? Resolve to evaluate habitual beliefs. Read diverse books, discuss difficult issues and abandon questionable principles. Dogma depends on absence of dissent for survival. The more outrageous a belief is, the less tolerance believers have for other opinions. Facts stand by themselves. Better right tomorrow than never. It’s okay to revise beliefs, many past beliefs were crazy. Irrational thoughts fall apart in bright light. The diverse world is occasion for joy.
Respect the ancestors but don’t defend their errors. We have the ability to feed and house everyone if we could transcend consumerism, stabilize population, and conceive of non-growth sustainable economies. We are entertained to numbness and we survive hazards that used to kill us. Information flies around the globe like light, freaking out and crumbling regional paradigms. Stories come down to us polished like fairy tales. Custom resists progress and punishes brilliance before embracing wisdom. An action or belief is not better for having occurred earlier in time.
Ideas precede actions. Visionaries and bold thinkers have always challenged culture. Don’t mope, dissatisfaction is a catalyst. It is no longer clear how you are supposed to be. Such freedom is a responsibility one can’t avoid. Modern persons are faced with a plethora of choices. Wow! Choice should not be cause for fear. Weller Book Works booksellers are vendors of knowledge and vision. We offer you the whole menu of human experience from local to foreign, ancient to now, so you can choose wisely and joyously. Embrace this freedom. We are here for you. Dream boldly and speak truth. Thank you for letting us be your bookstore. Happy New Year.