2016: This is your new year! Make it happen. As always as the holiday approaches and the crescendo of Christmas is met, there is the lost week between Christmas and the New Year’s that provides a lull, that springs into the New Year’s promise. We each carry a list of potentials we hope for in our work, in our families and within ourselves to bring our lives to the best place possible. It is possible to use the new year to launch our dreams, renew our promises, confront our limitations, and expand what we think is possible. That’s what the New Years’ resolutions are all about. But better than that, is the taking a bigger bite of life, assuming more value for your life and wanting more for the world.
What would that look like in your life?
Here’s my list, I urge you to make your own:
- Find a way to respond to the world conditions so that has you feel more like a participant than an observer, or worse a resigned and annoyed complainer. There’s plenty to care about:
World hunger; ecological measures that slow global warming; children growing up without invested adults who want to steer them toward a good future; the needs of the Syrian families struggling to survive; those attempting to restart their lives from leaving prison; those alone and at home without community or family support facing serious illness; students allowed to drift and fail in school due to lack of interest and attention, mentoring and tutoring and care.
To each of these, take the resignation that protects you from despair, and find a way to engage. Thanks to Google, you can find in your community the sources that allow us all to participate and add to what can make a difference in the lives of people. Finding such an outlet for your energy, that energy that groans when you read the paper or see the sound bite on cable news. That energy that is quickly covered with the sense of hopelessness that leads you to resignation can be directed to action and engagement. This is the promise of the New Year: that we can shift gears, open our eyes and hearts and engage in the world around us; vast and cold as it seems sometimes.
- This is a tough one: Find a way to take this political year with the clamoring, and hyperbole, shouting and impossible assertions, attacks and insults of the candidates that challenges our ability to weed through the noise to find the melody of what democracy is all about. Democracy is noisy, it’s messy and history tells us it’s always been like this. It just seems a little worse with political grandstands that do not challenge our country’s direction and potential when clearly that is needed. The issues the world faces with wars raging and countries suffering huge losses of human life and human potential, our sister city Paris recovering from the impossible attack on all we hold dear and essential to our lives, that is where we are. What we need to hear about is what we as a country are going to do in response to these worldwide conditions, not whose fault it was that they occurred. Which former or current President is responsible for ISIS is a red herring.
What we stand for as a nation is up for debate particularly in the refugee migration. As we watch Germany and Canada welcome the children and families with warm embrace, where is our voice? We individually have a responsibility to research, engage and represent in our community our best idea of who we are as a country, and challenge the people we elect locally as well as nationally to represent our country, the one we’re behind.
- Another tough one: across the country very similar to our recent past in the 70’s, a movement in this country is underway in response to the killing of youths of color. We’re suddenly aware of the mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands, a private prison system supported by us as taxpayers, has been exposed. Sitting on the sofa watching cable news and having an opinion is better than not taking the trouble to identify this national problem. Even if we feel the injustice just by looking at the numbers and the causes: poverty, poor school systems, police in schools and not extra guidance and counseling for students in trouble, etc.-and are looking for answers, we need to look at the faces of those who are affected; the women and children, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. We need to see their faces and recognize this is a human being problem generated systematically over decades and centuries. From that perspective, we can find a way to meaningfully engage.
- Take a deeper look at what you think you know about the recalcitrant and stubborn positions you yourself hold on the topic of what is happening to people of color in our country. How many people of color do you get to know personally and intimately enough to know how they feel when they open the newspaper and find our Tamir Rice’s police have been released from the consequences of their actions that killed a young teen with a plastic gun. You can be an observer or a participant in the ongoing struggle that is underway to unearth assumptions that have never been cleared about the value of all human life to the recognition that we have not functioned as a country as if that were so. That is why the women who founded Black Lives Matter shook the ground. It’s a familiar theme when Black Lives Matter women take over a public meeting and the microphone that although their mission is good, how they are doing it is just not right. Take another look at what is happening there. Hear the truth of need for the barrier to be broken as well meaning politicians claim they understand the problem; polite rhetoric and a nod of recognition of racism thrives in denial and ignorance, and pick your place from which to respond to our national tragedy.
- A bigger bite for 2016 could also be taking on your life more fully; better food in your diet, exercise, more intimate relationships with people in your life, taking in the vast and amazing glory of life’s every day potential on. It’s all there to be had. Maybe from inside out. As we were reminded on our recent trip to the East Coast with family, a bigger bite in life begins with having the courage to open your heart more, leaving the history behind and reaching out investing more of yourself. That’s living. That’s the life of challenge and promise.
Happy New Year One and All.