03/28/2008 02:48 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The New Dark Ages

I tend to be a Debbie Downer. I can't help it. My family will be talking about snowfall for skiing, and the first thing out of my mouth is, "Did you know that climate change is now so bad, they have tropical diseases in Italy?"

Wah, waaaah...

Climate change, the war, pretty much all of the Bush administration's rule -- these are thing things I think about when I'm bored on the subway. That's not intelligence, that's masochism.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Thursday added yet another item on my list of things to be depressed about. The comedian Bill Hicks had a "bit" (as much as someone like Bill Hicks had "bits") about the phenomenon of men of genius being shot down in their prime, while mediocrity not only thrives, but flourishes. ("Martin Luther King: Assassinated... Reagan: Wounded.") Bhutto might not have had genius, but she was more than just one woman, she was the hope of a free Pakistan.

It's bad. Everything everywhere seems bad. Not as bad as Walk Hard, but pretty bad. As 2008 comes barreling down up on us, and 2007 seems like one more feverish year of violence, beauty, and confusion, I try not to be a Debbie Downer, but...

Wah Waaaaaah....

I can't help but feel like we're headed into another year of the New Dark Ages. War, famine, pestilence and plague, you name it, we've got it. The "word of God" is held above the word of reason, public literacy and education rates are abysmal. New Orleans.

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans.

And yet. And yet.

I used to comfort myself that if we were in the New Dark Ages now, then by the time I'm graying, I could count living in a New Renaissance -- that American culture would flourish, that the arts and sciences would have a resurgence that would put us back at the foreground of human poetry. That we would bounce back from these eight years and revolutionize our participation in Global policy, that we would, dare I say it, evolve our ideas, our identity, and push forward into a new era of American Democracy.

But why should I have to wait until then? Why should any of us wait until then? Because of President Bush? If we wait for people like him to be gone so we can make a difference, we'll be about as effective as the Democrats in Congress.

What can't happen in the new year? What can't we accomplish?

My resolution this year is to stop being a Debbie Downer -- to stop day dreaming on the subway and find clear, simple ways I can offer up something other than blogs, to help to make a difference.

What do you want to happen in the New Year? How do you want to make a difference?