Joseph Sabino Mistick: Hard work, hope in 2019 |
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Joseph Sabino Mistick
Migrant teens walk inside the Tornillo detention camp in Tornillo, Texas Dec. 13.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, the 19th-century British poet, served as Poet Laureate for a record-breaking 42 years, so he got to say a lot about a lot of things. Some of it was happy and some was sad, and some of it was more hopeful than not.

Tennyson was fairly sunny when writing about the new year, saying, “Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, ‘It will be happier.’”

From where we are sitting in the final week of 2018, it is hard to take Tennyson at his word. While it is in our nature to hope for better times, some new years hold the promise of hard work, toughness and tenacity — before we get to happiness.

In 1930, when the full extent of the Great Depression began to settle in, it was clear that a national purpose and a lot of hard work would be necessary to get us back on track. With each coming new year, Americans pulled together until we pulled through.

In the final days of 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war by Congress, every American knew what kind of commitment would be called for in 1942, and almost all stepped up. In time, America saved freedom.

Crossing the threshold into 2019, the nation requires the same commitment that has worked for us before. Setting your politics aside, we face a confluence of problems in 2019, any one of which would present a considerable challenge on its own.

As the year ends, large parts of the federal government have shut down. This affects millions of Americans, from federal employees and their families to those Americans who count on their government to be there for them.

The economy has signs of a slow-down, and the stock market is jittery. The so-called tax-cut for the middle class has benefited the high rollers, promising to drive the federal deficit up $1 trillion in the coming decade. Many corporations used the tax savings for stock buy-backs instead of creating new jobs by investing in new plants and equipment.

Our allies have been spurned and the traditional enemies of freedom are being accommodated. Just last week, a snap decision to pull American troops out of Syria has left the Kurds isolated and exposed to what will surely be an attempt at genocidal massacre by tyrants who reject American values. Russia and Syria and Turkey are pleased.

The big news coming from the immigration crisis at our southern border is all about the cruelty of our current policies. The separation of families and the deaths of small children in federal custody signal a giant challenge to the traditional American promise of freedom and liberty for all.

And, the Mueller investigation looks certain to wrap up its work in the coming year, starting the next chapter. Already there have been multiple convictions, guilty pleas and indictments.

This is a year for hard work, and Tennyson had another quote for the turn of the new year that may help: “Ring out the false, ring in the true.” 2019 looks like a good year for that.

Joseph Sabino Mistick is a Pittsburgh lawyer. Reach him at [email protected]

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