The curtain is falling on America’s long descent into the darkness of the Age of Deceit.

I suppose it is fitting that the closest conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurs today on this winter’s solstice; the closest since the year 1226. A conjunction Christians believe formed the Christmas Star more than two millennia ago as they co-opted a pagan celebration as their own. Virtually every religion and culture across the world and across time have rituals and celebrations to herald our seasonal turn from darkness to light. The promise of rebirth this year has never been more welcome.

Our descent into the darkness of deceit began nearly twenty years ago with our leader’s lies about WMD and al-Qaeda in Iraq. We tolerated those deceits because we were angry and afraid. As truth became relative—in virtually all aspects of our society—other fundamental underpinnings of character also became vulnerable including humility, temperance, and especially our sense of compassion. We became righteous, arrogant, greedy, and frankly, a danger to ourselves.

Our descent reached terminal velocity with the election of Donald Trump. Deceit is disorienting and 2020 marked the zenith of our disconnection from reality and truth, quite literally resulting in the unnecessary death of hundreds of thousands of Americans. “Shame” and “pity” are words our allies use to describe America today. They are being kind.

The cost of all of this may never be summed, but suffice it to say we cannot afford to continue on our current path.

Some argue we will, indeed, continue on this path of descent—a trajectory akin to a downward spiral. Their predictions are plausible, but ahistorical. The path of humanity, including America, has never been linear. Randomness and chaos tend toward lurching to and fro like a poorly anchored pendulum always threatening to lose its grip on its axis. And, humans learn. We course-correct. We seek advantage through differentiation. It is more than likely we will now lurch back toward the light of truth. Under current circumstances, our very survival depends on this turn.

We must set judgment and condemnation aside. There is plenty of shame and blame for all of us to share, which is a completely useless endeavor. It is time for virtue to return to the altar of reverence. We must rebuild our character as individuals, communities, and a nation—one virtue at a time. It will be hard; painful. But the needle is pointing toward truth. It is that dim but stable light that beckons at the other end of the tunnel. The light that will draw us from despair, from fear, from loathing, from the threat of complete and utter destruction.

With truth comes the prospect of justice, accompanied by its loyal steward: love.

We can get there if we go together. We have lived the alternative for the last 20 years—to our great peril. Tomorrow is ours to seek. Our destiny is in our hands. The future of humankind hangs in the balance. This is no time for indifference. This is no time to bet on luck. It is time to reject deceit in all of its forms; to embrace the light of truth as our beacon of hope. It is time to clasp each other’s hands and climb. To breathe the air of clarity that awaits at the top of the mountain of virtue where our souls can soar again.

What a joy it would be to see you there. If you make it there before I do, please take my words with you, and enjoy the view.

Happy Solstice!