Reality as the year draws to a close bears a grim visage. Rarely, if ever, within memory have global politics been so dreary, leaders so small-minded and mean-spirited. Progress is ceaseless but felt by many as harassing and menacing rather than, as to our 19th-century forebears, bright with the promise of a better future.
A festive season looms. Cares are left behind, fears and forebodings cast off. We remind ourselves, if we are sensible, that “the news” can be turned off, if only for a time; that “useful information” is good but uselessness has its merits too — innocent beauty, for example.