Tomorrow marks the start of a New Year, and when you’re clearing your head after a night of celebration, America, it will be time to do a blunt self-assessment.

Time to look in the mirror, you disunited states, and face some hard facts about yourself.

You’ve come up short.

People said you had so much promise.

That you were and would continue to be truly great.

That you set an example everyone could emulate.

And then, all of a sudden, you came undone.

You shocked the neighborhood with your divorce from rationality. Latent tensions developed into apparently irreconcilable differences.

And look at you now. You’re a raucous wreck. Your neighbors are talking. Actually, make that the entire community.


Sometimes they laugh at your antics, the way everyone does at Boris Johnson down the block. But your descent into buffoonery matters far more because you were always more important to the neighborhood.

After all, you used to be the smart, friendly, measured presence, the one everybody felt they could turn to in times of trouble. You’d be there to extend a hand or impart some encouraging words, some sage advice.

But all that has changed.

Your relationships are in shambles.

The genial generosity everyone so admired has disappeared.

You’ve forgotten that some things are better left unsaid. Whatever thought pops into your head now comes out your mouth.

And you’ve befriended some baleful, bullying types who don’t give a damn about neighborhood norms. Everyone knows they’re involved in shady business, but when you hear about their latest disreputable doings, you shrug it off.

How did you go so wrong?

I know it’s tough to hear, but you stopped thinking. And trying.

Being a mature, well balanced, integrated, helpful world presence is hard work.

It requires thought and self-discipline. It takes an ability to learn, to adapt, to adjust.


But you lost all those impulses. You started listening to the charlatans, believing things you’d once have dismissed as nonsense.

Like, that you could spend more than you make without burdening your kids with insurmountable debt. Deep down, you knew that was nonsense, but you pretended otherwise. Once it would have mattered that you squandered your kids’ future, but no more. You wanted new things, and you felt like you deserved them. So you told yourself and your kids that you could have it all.

Then, when your finances started to pinch, as was inevitable, you let your property fall into disrepair. Your sidewalk crumbled. Your pipes burst. Storms tore shingles off the roof.

Your house wasn’t at all energy efficient, but you couldn’t be bothered. All that stuff about the climate — let others worry about it. Not your concern.

As you grew odder and more antisocial, you started demanding that your neighbors take care of all the local issues, on your terms. When they didn’t, you yelled and waved your arms around like a nutty old hermit. Why, you even threatened to build a tall fence to wall your place off from the neighborhood — and somehow force everyone else to pay for it. Get off my lawn!

And so you’ve arrived at this sad state, where folks who once admired you shake their heads sadly and look away when they see you.


Soon, it will be the new year. A traditional time of reckoning. A period when people reassess and resolve to do better.

Can you, America?

Doubters abound, but perhaps. If you reach deep and find your true self.

That is, figure out who you really are, what you really stand for.

It won’t be easy. Not with your current bad habits.

You’ll have to swear off knee-jerk reactions.

You need to read more, to be better informed, to take the long view of things.

You should aspire to rationality and strive to be reasonable.

Why, it might even be good to come up with a motto that serves as a daily reminder of your resolutions:

Wake the great America within again.

Scot Lehigh is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at scot.lehigh@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeScotLehigh