I’ve been out of touch for the holidays, and I don’t believe in re-posting old content to give the illusion of activity. I don’t believe you, the readers, are stupid. I know it is bad practice to simply go quiet, but I’d rather have an unintentional loss of readers due to my own blogging sins than a loss caused by insulting the intelligence of my readers.
With that said, for those of you who follow along (or simply graze through) the eclectic path of my literary madness, I sincerely thank you. I don’t have many readers -probably due to my poor blogging practices, but for those of you hanging around, I really do appreciate you.
What a stupid, stupid, year. I’m glad to see it gone. We lost some wonderfully talented artist. We slogged through an especially muddy election resulting in the selection of a man who tweets with maturity of a 16 year old. We lost our minds over people trying to use the bathroom in peace. And we found ourselves divided over race and gender equality.
Other important matters exploded during the year such as the Dakota Pipeline and Flint Michigan’s unsafe water. We had the Zika virus, denial of the scientifically backed global warming problem, the chaos in Aleppo, the NRA is still a thing and still pockets politicians, a tragically high number of African Americans being gunned down by police, mass shootings, and so much more.
It felt like 2016 was a giant step back for the U.S. We fought over matters that should have been settled long ago. It was a wake up call that we still have a long road ahead when it comes to issues of equality.
I would love to say it can’t get much worse than that fiasco, but 2017 is already promising to continue the madness. The only hope we have for change is us.
1. Be A Decent Human Being
Change starts with us. Who we are and how we relate to one another matters. Having a difference of opinions is not a problem. How we coexist while having a difference of opinions can be a problem, but doesn’t have to be.
We must start by looking at everyone as worthy of dignity. Every person is created in the image of God, and thus every person is deserving of respect. Our opinions and ideologies may vary, but at the end of the day we are all human beings who ought love one another.
And I don’t mean love in the cheaply used sense so common in our vernacular (i.e. “OMG I love this new phone!” or “I love taco trucks!”). I mean LOVE; an action which takes others and their needs into consideration, and meeting those needs when and where we can.
2. Draw Lines
I am all for make believe, as long as it is kept in its proper context. There are, however, certain truths which can’t be ignored. Don’t be afraid to stand in honest truth even when it seems like you’re the only one willing to.
For example, I am personally pro-life, but politically pro-choice. Life is sacred, and we must hold it sacred. Yet there are those in places of power who take the matter of Pro-Life to an unhealthy conclusion. They demand all babies be born regardless of circumstance (including extremes such as rape, incest, risk to mother and/or baby, or illness/disease/etc. which will result in a stillbirth -or immediate death- of the child). This, to me, seems calloused and unmerciful.
These same individuals then disregard mother and baby postpartum; unwilling to fight for things such as paid baby leave in the work force, affordable and accessible healthcare (in general), and despising any support intended on preserving a decent quality of life. This isn’t pro-life, this is pro-baby.
At the same time, I despise abortion as a means of birth control (i.e. “Oh I wasn’t ready.” or “It is inconvenient at this time.”), or as a means to search and destroy imperfect babies (i.e. children with Down Syndrome, etc.). Some would consider me calloused, but I think this is bullshit.
The willingness to take this stand has me at odds with pro-life and pro-choice friends and family, but life is sacred. It is an undeniable truth I must stand honestly for lest vox populi robs the sacredness from life and treats all human beings as little more than a commodity. (In other words, if we don’t care for life when it starts, we won’t care where it ends.)
Draw lines. Make waves.
3. Demand that We Be Better
I hate politics, but we can’t escape its effects. We must be a voice for those who are being silenced. Speak up for changes that enhance the quality of life for those around you, not just yourself. Rally around those things which give people a chance to pursue their inalienable rights.
Too many corporations and politicians are ensuring they and their own are protected. We have seen opposition against programs and policies that give the average American a fighting chance at a better life. Opposition against a higher minimum wage, affordable health coverage, and programs aimed at caring for those in need should cause us pause.
Don’t be silent. Your voice matters.
4. Demand Better of Yourself
Make long term goals which can be broken up into attainable chunks. You want your college degree? Aim for accomplishing a doable amount of credits each semester. Want to finish your manuscript? Set aside a few hours each week dedicated to writing. Want to lose weight? Set a reasonable weight loss goal for each month (a few pounds at a time). Remove a little excess from your diet each week (do I really need six donuts, or will three be enough -I’m guilty of this). Aim to walk at least one day a week.
You can reach your goals. You have to break them up into bite-sized chunks so you can see your progress. This, hopefully, will keep you motivated to see your commitment through to the end.
Demand better of yourself. You’ll fuck it up. We all do. When you fall, however, get back up and keep going. This is the only way.
Even if 2017 is worse than last year, you can make it a great year for you and those around you. You will have set backs, bad days, storms, trials, etc., but you can endure. Be a decent human being. Draw lines. Demand we be better. And demand better of yourself.
Have an amazing year!
(Also, if you’re feeling chastised, don’t. This was mostly for me.)