If you’re reading this post you made it through 2016. Not a small feat apparently. 2016 was a test of faith, patience, decency and perseverance for most. A lot of us failed that test. 63 million people from one country alone got the opportunity to take a stand, make a good decision but instead chose the deplorable, destructive alternative.
There have been terrible losses. In one year we got to see some of the worst in people. Racism, discrimination, fear-mongering, gender-based violence, police brutality and a terrifying level of complacency for all of it. For those of us who faced losses in 2016 – personal, professional, spiritual, ideological or any combination thereof, 2017 will be, should be, the beginning of reconciliation, a reckoning of sorts. We never really thought it could get to this point. We always believed that something would happen, that someone else would intervene to change the course. And until it came bearing down on us, until we watched decency and responsibility and humanity fall to the lowest it’s been in our lifetimes, we sat in our little bubbles of individuality and selfishness and waited for someone else to do something…
Every single thing that happened in 2016 was nothing more than a manifestation of the inevitable consequences of prior inaction. We have become unrepentantly selfish and too often we fail to stand up and speak out against injustices because they have not yet touched our lives. Violence in the inner cities, unemployment in the ghetto, gender based violence in other demographics and countries, nationalism in other nations. It had not yet touched us, had not yet affected our families, friends, or neighbours. It was not yet our reality. Why then would we need to do anything? And then… it was. Now it is us and our families affected by these issues that we once felt insulated against. Now we all get to feel the effects of our silence.
We now face the challenge of assessing not only our losses, but also taking stock of what we have left. Our strength of character, the determination of our spirits the force of our wills. What will be our response? As individuals, as families, as communities, as nations. What will be our actions? Have we folded our hands? Have we thrown in the towel? Will we lie prostrate in the wake of our ills and give up?
Or will we rise?
How will we now respond? What is your message for 2017? Are you speaking out against the injustices that are happening all around you? Have you joined or otherwise found a way to support a social group that is attempting to effect positive change? Have you as an individual adjusted your approach to others, the manner of your thinking in order to spread love and inclusivity and tolerance? Do we finally see that it is our responsibility, every last one of us, to ensure that we do not sink to the levels we experienced in the year past?
I have. My message will be one of hope, of inclusion, of decency and of love. My actions will reflect my ideals and my desire to live in a world that judges people by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin (or for that matter, their gender or gender identity). I will no longer be a part of the problem. I will not allow evil to flourish by sitting by and doing and saying nothing. I will not sit back in silence with my hands folded simply because I have not YET felt the effects. I implore and encourage you to join me, play to your strengths. These are not new concepts. Our ancestors have been ringing these bells for centuries. Will we now heed the call?