Father Time bids farewell to 2017 as Baby New Year looks to better the world in 2018
January 4, 2018

Editorial cartoon

Are you old enough to remember the images on New Year’s Eve of Father Time passing the baton of another year to Baby New Year?

There he was, Father Time, looking rather haggard and frail, leaning on his staff to keep upright, after watching over the world for 364 days, 23 hours, and the remaining ticking minutes of his time on Earth. It has always been backbreaking work. Over the centuries, wars have raged, famine and natural disasters have plagued the planet, democracies have been tested to the limit by madmen and dictators, and the middle and lower classes have struggled to keep pace as the rich and powerful maintain a stronghold on world economies and government.

As Father Time prepares to bid adieu to this world, he always sits down with Baby New Year during his last hour and offers him fatherly advice of what he saw and the work he couldn’t accomplish. Baby New Year is just that—a baby, with all the promise and joy of a new beginning shining brightly on his face. With his rattle in hand, Baby New Year is ready to take on the challenges of the next 365 days. Little does he know what is in store for him, and how, he too, will finish his watch a much older, Father Time.

Wherever Father Time goes once the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve is anyone’s guess, but we hope it’s somewhere comfortable. It’s a very difficult job and retirement should treat well all of the Father Times from throughout the history of the world. We could only guess what Father Time 2017 would have to say to his predecessors, as that was a doozy of a year.

We may not know the extent of that conversation, but we have something else to share with you. Normally, “exclusives” are found on page one of the newspaper. But, as we begin 2018, Gazette Chicago has something special for you. In the waning days of 2017, the phone rang late one evening at our editorial desk. It was Father Time himself. Little did we know, but he was an avid reader of ours. We learned his home base was in Chicago—easy to get around the world from here, he said. Father Time wanted to give us an exclusive:  his transition conversation with Baby New Year.

So, just like in the movie, Field of Dreams, when noted author Terence Mann waded into that cornfield in Iowa to find out what was on the other side, Gazette Chicago’s editor and publisher had a front row seat to an incredible moment in history. Here, in his own words, is what Father Time 2017 shared with Baby New Year 2018:

“Look at you. So excited to take on your role as Baby New Year! You know, I see so much of myself in those sparkly eyes of yours. Yes, yes, I was just like you—ready to do my best to watch over this wonderful world of ours. My task began on January 1, 2017—just as yours will begin within the next hour. Oh, the places you will see! Mother Earth is wonderful indeed and you will travel all over its creation.

“Oh, don’t worry about me. Yes, I am much older than when I first started out, but that is all part of the cycle of life. I hope you age gracefully—but not at the breakneck speed that I did. 2017 was a difficult year indeed. It was even challenging for Father Time to sometimes keep pace. 

“It is a tradition for Father Time to share his aspirations for the New Year and those tasks he could not complete, so listen attentively, Baby New Year, for there is much for you to do in 2018.

“I leave you a world that is longing for a hopeful future and strong leaders to guide them. I have traveled from sea to shining sea and I have seen the devastation being caused by global warming and climate change. It is very real and unless the leaders of the world’s most powerful governments come together soon, I fear that the tasks of future Baby New Years will be far, far greater, or—Heaven help us—no longer needed.

“It’s okay, don’t be scared. There are many things like this to address and you will gain confidence as the days of the calendar turn. You must bring the United States back to the Paris climate agreement. The U.S. is the only country that has walked away and we cannot dismiss its decision as mere folly or ignorance—the fate of the world is at stake here. Encourage the American people to urge their elected officials to pressure President Donald Trump to return to the table. Seventy percent of Americans believe in climate change.

“Oh yes. President Trump.  Well, I could spend my entire hour on what has happened in the United States this past year. We do have to touch on other parts of the world, but here is what you must do, Baby New Year, to help the fine people there. The world is not only watching, but it is taking its lead from Washington, DC.

“Continue to guide Americans through the Resist movement. It is working. More and more citizens are getting engaged in the political process and recent elections are showing positive results. It is not usually the case for Father Time to step into political waters, or to take party sides, but what is happening in America is downright harmful to its citizens and the rest of the world.

“The recent vote by the U.S. Congress to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a grave injustice. Middle class and lower income people will ultimately be hurt by this action, while the top 1% income earners will reap 86% of the benefits. The significant reductions that the very wealthy and large corporations have to pay are permanent, versus those that are much less and temporary for other wage earners.

“It is so sad to see and I fear the future will be even more challenging for those struggling to keep up with their bills and send their children off to college, or for the elderly to keep their homes and pay for medications. The argument among Republican leaders will be to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to cover the $1.5 trillion deficit that will result from this bill. This will only hurt the middle class and low-income people even more. So much for the Republicans being “deficit hawks.” It was appalling to learn that the President and many Senators who are involved in real estate development will reap windfall tax benefits in the millions of dollars (including Tennessee’s Bob Corker who flipped his vote after this provision was added). This is not leadership, Baby New Year, this is some of the worst greed that I have ever seen. Only 25% of Americans support this bill—which Speaker of the House Paul Ryan inaccurately touts as one of the greatest accomplishments ever by a Congress and Administration.

“Protect the Affordable Care Act as much as you can. This tax bill eliminates the mandate that calls for Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty. It has the threat of taking 13 million Americans off the healthcare rolls. Even without one bit of publicity from the U.S. government last year, nearly nine million Americans signed up for the ACA—the same as the year prior when President Barack Obama encouraged people to do so. Americans are smart—many times much smarter then their leaders in Washington. As we speak, the approval rating for Congress is at only 14.7%. It was so childish and petty to hear the cries of “repeal and replace” Obamacare from Trump and Republican leaders in 2017, and yet they never could offer an alternative. Sixty percent of Americans want healthcare for everyone.

“Find a way to help Americans protect net neutrality, as 83% of Americans support affordable and fair Internet access. This is a slippery slope that many Americans fear will lead to only more control by the rich and powerful in Washington and in big business. 

“Guide the American public through powerful discourse and legislation on stricter and sane gun control legislation. I cried this year at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas and wept at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas when I witnessed the death and carnage from assault rifles. I sat in astonishment on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy when President Trump hosted the National Rifle Association president in the White House that same day. Ninety-five percent of Americans want background checks on all guns and 65% want to ban assault rifles.

“Baby New Year, find a way to protect the Dreamers and help pass fair immigration laws. The DACA legislation protects those who came to America through no accord of their own. They are college graduates and contributing members of society, yet as we speak, immigration officials are arresting some of them and planning deportation procedures. The Trump Administration is threatening to separate children from their parents at the border when they attempt to come into the United States illegally. Yet, so many fewer Mexican people even want to come to anymore. They know they are not wanted there.

“Do your best to change the rhetoric in America. Help move it away from racial divide and hatred against Muslims, Latinos, and anyone of color. Help to show Americans that there is no place for white nationalism and white supremacy. Help preserve democracy in America; the U.S. has long been the standard bearer for the rest of the world, but sadly, 2017 has seen a vast decline in its position across the globe. A strong democracy benefits not only 330 million Americans, but also all those who yearn for freedom and peace in their homelands.

“There is no doubt that what is transpiring in Washington is emulating what has long taken place in Chicago. The rule of a one-party system and autocratic leaders is harmful. Father Time thinks that perhaps the Trump Administration and this Republican Congress might have had a watchful eye on Chicago where a City Council for decades has voted in lockstep in support of its Mayor. In 2017, Chicago noted the 30th anniversary of the death of Mayor Harold Washington. That was a rare time in its history when there was debate and difference of opinion in the City Council.

“The State of Illinois and the City of Chicago are a mess. Nearly four years of Governor Bruce Rauner have led to escalating debt due to a lack of State budgets. The 2018 election for governor is critical to Illinois’s future. The state dropped to the sixth most populated as Pennsylvania overtook it in 2017. Governor Rauner has been too busy trying to ram through his “Turnaround” agenda in a Democratically-controlled House then to govern from both sides of the aisle. All he has tried to do during his three years in office is to dismantle unions and lower the wages of hard working Illinois residents, not to mention the devastating affect his lack of budgets have had on social service agencies, healthcare institutions, and higher education. His list of 2017 accomplishments is as thin as President Trump’s. Do your best to ensure a fairly run Democratic primary to see who will surface as the best challenger to Rauner next fall, should he survive his own primary challenge in March.

“The situation in Chicago is much more dire than most people realize. Escalating pension costs are hammering the citizens with tax after tax. Property taxes are through the roof, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel finds no other avenues for income growth. His $2.25 billion offer to Amazon must be watched carefully to see if it brings the jobs promised and doesn’t result in astronomical rent increases. Violence and crime are plaguing the citizenry. Jobs in long discarded communities are scarce, and that is leading to even more crime. Late in December, we learned that Facebook was allegedly unaware or uncooperative in assisting the Chicago Police Department in a sting of “secret pages” that offered the sale of illegal drugs and guns. Baby New Year, you must convince the American people to vote with their wallets when it comes to the lack of cooperation and understanding from large corporations.

“This Mayoral administration has failed woefully in addressing the homelessness crisis by doing little to increase adequate housing, restore mental health clinics, and increase the number of Chicago Housing Authority units.

“On December 19, I made my way to Old St. Patrick’s Church for the annual Homeless Persons Memorial service. It is coordinated by a number of local advocacy groups including the Ignatian Spirituality Project and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Schoolchildren from Frances Xavier Warde School processed with lighted candles for the victims of homelessness who died on Chicago’s streets in 2017. People like Wesley Sharp, who was described as a kind, patient, respectful man who is missed by his friends. Moriah Ishmael, who all he ever wanted was a place to call his own. And Durrell Williams, who was hard-working, and only looked forward to having a safe place to stay. They mentioned Renard Parrish, an advocate for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless who treated everyone fairly under Lower Wacker Drive. People like Barbara McHenry, Bethelynne Johnson, and Stanislaw Gal. I wept that night, too, Baby New Year, for those who perished and for the many who go about their business in this bustling city without ever thinking of those who are suffering.

“Please pay attention to the new initiative in Chicago to increase affordable housing that is tied to the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO). The Near North and Near West areas need that type of a lift, but the formula for income levels is all wrong. Instead of lowering the income standards, the City has raised them. Advocates like Leah Levinger of the Chicago Housing Initiative and Mary Tarullo of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless are echoing the clarion call.  Please help the citizens take notice of this project and if it needs to be readdressed. Time will only tell if the ARO leads to more SROs. I do not want you, Baby New Year, to spend part of your final days next December at Old St. Pat’s weeping over those who have died due to homelessness in Chicago.

“Oh, there is so much more to talk about, but the sands in the hourglass are diminishing and my time here on Earth is coming to an end.  You will do fine, I know. You will stand on the shoulders of all the Fathers Time that went before you. You can also count on all the good people of Earth who seek peace and equality for all. Those who want all humanity to have access to healthcare and education and good wages. Those who want to protect Mother Earth and its entire splendor.

“I do hope that someday, as we usher in a future Baby New Year, that her eyes will sparkle just like yours and as her time slips away we say adieu to “Mother Time.” We need to open more doors for more women in America and across the globe.

“Farewell, Baby New Year. Bless you and Godspeed. Your time will pass quickly. Use it wisely and go out and do good in the world. We need you to do so much for so many in 2018.”