It’s December. Which means that amidst the glare of garland, bright lights, and incessant cheer / holiday drama, is the moment to review the past year.
Perhaps 2016 more than in others in the recent past, is closing with evidence of its struggle –– bruises, wounds, and fresh scars. Pain.
It can be easy to spend time placing the blame on whomever you think made 2016 such a raging dumpster fire.
I say, fuck that. Here’s a better idea.
This time of year, instead of pointing fingers at those around you, go inward. Use this moment to make yourself accountable for your role in 2016, and begin planning your part in 2017. We all deserve a share of the mess.
Simply put, we didn’t listen to each other.
We allowed ourselves to become siloed off into circles of self-righteousness, high-horseism and arrogance toward those who opposed us. We let our identities rule us. We let it turn us into monsters. All of us.
Perhaps more than any time before now, who someone voted for or the car they drive or where they do their grocery shopping defines them. A quick scroll down a social media feed and we’ve successfully placed friends and strangers into boxes. Judging and labeling each other has never been easier.
What’s more –– we feel justified in doing so. We think we are right… we think it’s only fair. We pacify ourselves with peer approval via the almighty like.
Where is the place for nuance? Where is the room for complexity? Where is the space for respectful dialogue about divergent opinions?
Certainly not most places on the internet. Yet, that is where many of these interactions take place. Thanks to anonymity and keyboard confidence behind black mirrors, we type things to other people we wouldn’t dare say to their faces.
Simultaneously, we watch election results unleash waves of nearly unprecedented hatred amongst friends and countrymen.
We see a climate of anger and frustration and fear overtake us and we wonder how we missed the warning signs.
We wonder how we didn’t see it coming.
Many people are scared, and rightly so. It is now an uncertain time, when things we took for granted before are now called into question. For many, 2016 turned reality into a nightmare.
So we are primed to fall even deeper into the rabbit hole of negativity and cynicism. It’s easy to see why.
It is EASY to allow yourself to be ruled by buzzwords and talking points.
It is EASY to fall into the trap of thinking that we are doomed.
It is EASY to accept the labels and claims about people around you.
It is EASY to blame and hate and lament the downfall of your country or the world.
But you know what, guys? We don’t have the luxury of doing what is easy now. We have to do what is hard.
And it is fucking hard to listen to someone whose perspective challenges every fiber of your being.
It is hard to love people whose actions cause harm to others.
It is hard to wake up every day knowing that you are pushing against a current that is surging the other way.
It is hard to be alone in a crowd and stay true to your values.
It is hard, and it is going to be hard for a while.
If 2016 felt like a battle, 2017 will feel like a war.
Let’s ditch the violence imagery for a second and look at this a different way.
2017, and every day that comes before it, is an opportunity to live your word. It is a chance to prove through your actions, that love conquers hate, that people are good at their core, that there is always hope.
The key here is action. Venting might make you feel better in the moment, but only action will make a difference. And it starts with you.
If you do anything but that, you are dishonoring every single person who fought for good in the face of adversity. You are turning your back on those who have suffered in order for the rest of us to have a better world the next day. You are failing the people who pressed onward despite every person who told them that it was impossible.
You are casting aside the visionaries, the activists, the leaders, the truth seekers, and the everyday people who had to make the hard choice over the easy one.
As you close this year and prepare yourself for the next one, you have the same choice.
You can choose to give up and give in.
Or you can say “fuck that”, and live every day with passion, dedication and grit. You can learn that the world is not the bubble you live in.
2017 is counting on you.
What’s it going to be?
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Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.