Forty years ago, as I prepared for a personal adventure that would change my life forever, I read an autobiography by U.S. Supreme Court Judge William O. Douglas called “Go East Young Man, The Early Years.” I leafed through that stimulating book as I traveled to New Haven, CT to attend Yale Law School’s Masters of Law Program that same year, 1974.
As I traveled north from Puerto Rico, “Go East Young Man” became my travel companion, first and foremost, because Justice Douglas was one of the most intriguing characters I had ever encountered in the Judiciary and Law.
Besides, he had been a distinguished law professor at Yale Law School. In addition to his prominence and distinction in the law, he was a man of great conviction, great courage, impeccable credentials as a liberal and a Roosevelt New Dealer. At those early stages of my own quest what definitely was most appealing was his unconventional wisdom of life itself.
That unconventionality was apparent when he selected a quote for the introduction of his autobiography by the Persian poet Jalal-Ud-Din Rumi (1207-1293), and I quote:
“All your anxiety is because of your desire for harmony. Seek disharmony; then your will gain peace.”
But why reminisce on those events of four decades ago and, in particular, this quote of a 13th century poet today as we approach the end of 2014 and welcome 2015?
During 2014, the anxiety referred to by Jalal-Ud-Din Rumi has become a constant companion in our daily lives. Anxiety that sadly has covered our existence like a dark cloud over this extraordinary and privileged land of ours. Anxiety caused by a lack of faith in our own capacity to once again raise ourselves from the blows that we as a People have endured during recent times.
Anxiety that to a degree has paralyzed our collective capacity to overcome our own fears. Anxiety that has given credence to the unfounded notion that Puerto Rico has already seen its best days and that we have lost our way and have entered a period of unsettling turmoil that unfortunately brings us daily closer to a cliff. A cliff that will eventually seduce us towards its depth as we hear the sound of naysayers sing their doomsday hymns.
Most probably a certain degree of this anxiety has been self-inflicted by Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla’s administration, as well as the legislative leadership, when they have chosen to convey their message of fiscal responsibility with a force that usually feels more like a jab by Smoking Joe Frazier than a serious dissertation on fiscal public policy, instead of the usual political folk tongue and sugar coating.
By aggressively confronting these realities in a straight forward manner, the administration has prepared us for a more realistic future. One that should permit us to move away from the past, its unproductive and harmful policies, propelling us forward these next years with a better understanding of our fiscal and economic realities.
This scenario should permit the administration to imbue its blueprint, which should effectively bring us the economic progress that Puerto Rico so dearly yearns. For the sincerity and leadership of this Administration, we should be grateful for we shall be better prepared to confront the challenges that are still ahead of us, many that have been ingrained in our system for many generations.
So let us welcome 2015, not with anxiety or despair, but with hope. As the English poet, Alfred Tennyson so accurately reminds us:
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…”