2016 has been an interesting time to be a YAV. While I’ve been trying to focus on serving in my small capacity, it seems as if much of the world around me has been corroding, shifting into utter tumult.
The joke that 2016 itself is the reason for our despair has received an ever-increasing amount of appreciation lately. Many of us have been flocking to support the idea that this past year has been some sort of vile entity, feeding off the suffering of humanity. And, strange as it may sound, it makes perfect sense that we like to think that way. It gives us hope that in just four days, our oppression shall cease, and a new era will dawn. If 2016 is a villain, it opens the door for 2017 to make way as a hero. Everybody loves a hero, because everybody needs hope.
Furthermore, vilifying 2016 has allowed us to point our fingers at something, and direct all the pain-infused anger we’ve been harboring and conglomerating over the past twelve months. It gives us an outlet. Perhaps more importantly, certainly more specifically, it gives us an outlet that has no need to defend itself. It is good and well that we should want to express our frustration, so it’s natural that we’ve decided to do it this way. But we’re missing the point of being frustrated if we vent it all into a fake rage at an imaginary demon. We’re frustrated for good reasons, and they deserve real outlets.
Many of us are frustrated and upset because we feel misunderstood and threatened in the society in which we live.
A little over half of US Americans, and most of the rest of the world (aside from Putin and Netanyahu), are frustrated and upset because we elected a president who poses a threat to things we hold very dear.
Still more of us are frustrated and upset because millions of refugees are still being oppressed and left without a place to call home.
The list goes on, but we’ve all heard it many times by now. The problem is, all those feelings of frustration will be wasted if we target them at 2016. We need to be frustrated, but we need to focus that frustration differently. We need to aim it not at some entity we made up, but at ourselves, and not as a reason to harbor resentment, but as a reason to grow.
If we let something that doesn’t really exist take all the heat for what has happened this year, we, the people who inhabit this world, who do exist, will never learn; our pattern of suffering and indifference, which does exist, will never change. 2017 is not a hero. It is the exact same thing 2016 has been, which is nothing but a concept. It cannot save us, and it offers us no hope.
However, we can save us. We, with God’s help and by the grace of God, are our own only hope.
So please don’t count on your New Year’s resolution to be the catalyst for humanity’s revival. Those start too late and end too soon. If we want to see things get better, there is no reason to wait. Challenge yourself now. It’s become a cliché, but we honestly need to “be the change we want to see,” and we need to do it now.
So sign petitions. Write petitions. Read things you don’t quite understand. Have conversations with people you don’t quite understand. Be loving to everybody. No really, everybody. Vote. Call your state representatives. Don’t forget to be loving to everybody. Give things away. Be loving even to people with whom you completely disagree. Teach people who don’t know the things you know. Step in to defend people who are being attacked. Be loving even to people with whom you agree, but you just don’t like anyway. Be all that we can be.
And to those of us with faith: pray, but pray with your actions, not just your thoughts or words.
Do all these things, and more. Do them always. When it becomes so exhausting that you fail and stop doing them, take time to learn from it and recover, and start doing them again. We will all fail individually, but if we all keep trying, we will never fail collectively again. That is my resolution for the future. That is where I find hope.