I love New Year’s Eve. I love celebrating the year that has ended; I love the anticipation of the New Year about to begin. I love contemplating the possibilities and potentials of the coming year and I love not knowing what lies ahead; the unknown intrigues and entices me with its mystery. As we close the book on the year gone by, the next adventure begins. New Year’s Day is only the first day of that adventure; it is the first page of what will become the book of the year 2013.
The book of 2012 is written; it is history. By all accounts, 2012 was a tumultuous year, filled from the beginning and throughout with dark and light chaos and uncertainty. Personally, for me, it was a very good year, a year of fun and adventure, filled with the love of family and friends and the safety and security of knowing I am loved, of knowing I belong. Sadly, for many, it was a very difficult year; a year filled with crisis, of financial hardships or tragic personal loss. For far too many, it was a year of unspeakable pain and unbearable sorrow; too many hearts were broken; too many dreams were senselessly shattered. Some overcame the year’s numerous challenges with grace and aplomb, elegantly circumventing obstacles in their path, while others valiantly struggled to hold on to their dignity as they stumbled or fell into every obstacle along their way. Political animosity reached a fevered pitch, and the quality of the discourse among politicians, as well as the electorate, deteriorated into contentiousness and acrimony; communication too often disintegrated into partisan posts on Facebook or rancorous tweets on Twitter. The important work of electing our president often became a silly farce; politics and politicians suffered a severe lack of gravitas this year, as the ridiculous all too often replaced the serious. It would have been funny had it not been so sad.
The senseless war in Afghanistan continued, as did the turmoil and violence in the Middle East and Africa. The war of violence against women around the world also continued, most notably in Afghanistan, Pakistan and witnessed most recently in India. In the United States, the self-anointed righteously superior used religion as a moral justification for truly immoral behaviors including verbal and legislative assaults on the rights of the LGBT community, the rights of voters, and the renewed and reinvigorated attack against a woman’s right to have self-determination and dominion over her body. In the fight to win battles women thought we had won years ago, this past year felt like déjà vu all over again.
In 2012, the working poor were shamed and union workers were demonized, while corporate titans greedily reaped the benefits of those working poor and union workers’ labor. Corporate insatiability for bigger profits was condoned in the name of “free enterprise,” while those seeking a share of those profits in the form of a decent, living wage were condemned as union thugs. This year, the disparity between the rich and poor grew wider and deeper, and sadly all too often the blame for this disparity was placed by the rich on the poor – the poor just didn’t try hard enough or want success badly enough; they were lazy and let’s face it, they were “moochers,” wanting something for nothing. The social safety net that so many Americans rely upon, and contribute to, including Medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, and food stamps, was vilified; “entitlements” became a dirty word and one more thing to disparage and ultimately, dismantle. The American middle class shrunk as the ranks of the working poor grew. Millions of children went to bed hungry. The effort to grow the middle class and enhance the lives of the working poor was frustrated every step of the way by a few self-serving politicians who were willing to pursue their own personal political agenda to the detriment of millions of Americans and the entire country’s economic recovery. The energy expended by the political few on behalf of the corporate few was simply astounding.
2012 was a year where we witnessed in so many ways the worst of humanity; however, it was also a year where we witnessed the very best. Around the world, there were amazing acts of individual courage and sacrifice. People, despite personal hardship, continued to show kindness and caring towards one another. People, despite threats to their personal well-being, continued to fight for greater freedom and stand up against tyranny. People continued to work selflessly and tirelessly on behalf of the less fortunate, providing shelter, food, medicine, emotional support and comfort. People steadfastly worked for the protection of the weakest and most vulnerable in society, defending the voiceless and the marginalized and the forgotten. There were human rights activists, animal rights activists, LGBT activists, union activists, environmental activists, anti-bullying activists; if there was a worthy cause, there were decent people ready to fight for it. People came together to provide emotional support and financial aid for those devastatingly impacted by natural disasters. And when horrific, unimaginable violence was inflicted upon 26 innocent lives, the whole world wept in sorrow with the families of Newtown.
Yes, 2012 gave witness to both the worst and best of humanity, but 2012 is done; it is now history. Today, within the still lingering resonance of all that was the year 2012, we look to the future; we each begin writing the story of 2013.
I do not know with certainty how the story we write of 2013 will evolve, and certainly, not how it will end. However, I do know some things. I know what I want our story to be – I have desires, I have hopes, I have dreams, for myself and for my world. I know that these things will help shape the form of 2013 – my personal energies, my imagination, my creativity- they will have impact, they will matter. I know that although there will be darkness, there will always be light to take that darkness away. I know that for every act of cruelty committed, there will be thousands of loving acts of kindness. I know that for every harsh word spoken in anger or hate, there will be many more spoken with understanding and love. I know that the path each of us has chosen to travel is ours alone; I also know that we do not have to travel our path alone. These things I know reflect the very best of humanity; knowing these things to be true fills my heart with an abundance of gratitude.
2013 is a book filled with blank pages, waiting for us to write the story that we together will create. I hope that the pages you write will be filled with a joyous spirit of adventure. I hope you fill your pages with kindness, compassion, caring, peace, joy, and gratitude; I hope you fill them with your passion, hopes and dreams. I hope you dare to fill them with love.