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Resolving to remain hopeful, optimistic in 2019

4 mins read

By Scott Graber

It is Saturday, Dec. 29, and I’m in the oak-paneled, sconce-lit, fire-warmed lobby of the Roanoke Hotel. It’s early, the lobby is mostly empty, but I’ve got my coffee and a Wall Street Journal. 

The Roanoke, built in 1882 for railroad passengers, is rambling, tudoresque and filled with Christmas trees. Last night, as we lingered in the lobby before dinner, hundreds of folks wandered among the trees taking “selfies” of themselves and their children. Others, not interested in trees or children, watched Auburn humiliate Purdue in the pine-paneled bar.

This morning the Wall Street Journal tells us that North Korea, despite sanctions, is still “moving money around the world.” My father — in 1951 — was in North Korea when his medical unit was overrun by the Chinese Army. Mark Clark, before he was president at The Citadel, negotiated an armistice in 1953 which still defines our relationship with this country. All of which would be of marginal interest if the North Koreans were not routinely lobbing long-range missiles into the Pacific. These missiles are, however, only one of the existential threats that we must contemplate as we move into 2019. 

In addition to Kim Jong Un’s “mischief,” we have SCE&G’s incompetence that has saddled many South Carolinian “rate-payers” with $2.3 billion in long-term debt. Then one might consider our yearly, African-born hurricanes that drift across the Atlantic giving us a week of Jim Cantore breathlessly predicting devastation the size of Delaware.

It is essential, however, that we side-step these looming threats and go about the business of working, praying and somehow, someway hanging onto our optimism. But, according to Lance Morrow, optimism was never the strong suit of my generation — the so-called Baby Boomers born just after World War II. 

“The dissident boomer elites won the wars of their youth; they triumphed when the war in Vietnam was lost; and they deposed two presidents, Johnson and Nixon,” Morrow wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “These were heady, Oedipal victories that exacted a high long-term price and, almost unnoticed, embedded in the boomer legacy a self righteousness … and a need to validate their dissidence by embracing a radical critique and a sort of institutionalized and theological mistrust of their own country.”

Morrow, not quite done with my generation, continues.

“The dissident boomers, to justify the rebellious indulgences, must maintain that their fathers needed killing, and, as a matter of fact that America was wicked in its origins and remains wicked even now; racist, genocidal, sexist and unjust.”

Whoa, Lance! Hold on just a minute! 

Yes, I’m cynical about the SCE&G sale to Dominion Energy. And yes, I’m skeptical about any guidance or governance from the Beaufort County School Board. And sure, I will acknowledge I’m concerned about the South Carolina General Assembly. But  “wicked”? 

Earlier this morning when I looked into the bathroom mirror — it was one of those hotel mirrors that enhances one’s features — I was not surprised to see that my face, in repose, was that of a chronically annoyed curmudgeon. And I know my temperament — in its default setting — is often anxious; sometimes angry. But I’m holding onto hope, and I’m nurturing optimism. These are are my goals, my resolutions for 2019. 

Scott Graber is a lawyer, novelist, veteran columnist and longtime resident of Port Royal. Email Scott at cscottgraber@gmail.com.

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