Happy New Year?

I wanted to send some sort of New Year's wishes to my friends and colleagues but it is difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my lawyer yesterday and on advice I wish to say the following: Please accept, with no obligation implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2021 but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that South Africa is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Best Regards (without prejudice), Name withheld (Privacy Act).

That was good for a chuckle. A reader forwarded it to me. It's from 10Talent president Fitzjohn Wayne and his solicitor. Of course once the chuckle expires, we're left with a strangely hollow taste. By laboring so hard to avoid potential insult to one and all, we feel neither here nor there, not fish, fowl or fan. That's often true of political correctness. It shows how despite our advanced technologies, as a society we still haven't learnt the very basics. How to celebrate personal uniqueness in a way that respects everyone else's? Many reviews are like that. "The amp sounded warm; but not really." What's wrong with warmth? People looking for it want to know where to find it. Likewise those who want to avoid it. Stop the equivocating press. Put your foot down. Take a stand. Even if the writer prefers a different sound, can warmth not be described in a non-judgmental way without second-guessing the audience?

After all, feeling offended is something we do to ourselves. Like being jealous and mad, we justify our reactivity by pointing at a seeming cause. But just because we can't control what happens, we can certainly choose how we respond. Nobody makes us jealous or offended. It's how we—like bio automats—choose to react. We never escape our co-creative responsibility for shaping the experience in our own image. If that experience be poor, it should remind us how limited we still are by our own personality. Reviewers have personalities. So do their readers. So do the makers of the things they write and you read about. It is good and very necessary practice to be respectful. But it seems to me, an even greater challenge is to manage that plus a very firm position that's unafraid of having a strong opinion so the result doesn't read washed out like that very clever New Year's greeting above.

Bloody hell, dig 2021 already, will ya?

Perhaps not. But here is to our constant growth to better roll with whatever life throws at us without losing our good humor and humanity. After all, if this is the new normal, we'd best be getting on with it rather than hang our hopes on returning to something that's passé. 2020 is over, so 2019 before it and 2021 is just starting to load. Happy New Year? Yes, definitely!