As the New Year Begins

December 19, 2022

As 2023 begins to fade from our memory and 2024 looms large, shiny with promise and hope, let’s try something new or at least something we may have forgotten about.

For the last years, our discourse, personally and politically has become…difficult on the best of days; ugly and disheartening on the worst.

But what if we broke the cycle? What if we stopped taking the bait the sensationalized news feeds us to keep us riled up and afraid? (I am not referring to legit news sources that keep us an informed and smart electorate, but the ‘opinion’ networks passing themselves off as news.) Our fellow citizens, immigrants, people different from us are not to be feared. This country, our home, was founded on the principles that we are all welcome; that we all matter and we are all equal.

Has that vision become reality? Just ask any marginalized person and you’ll have your answer. But I believe in my heart of hearts that most of us are loving, kind and compassionate. Given the chance, we rise to any occasion and live as shining examples of humanity at its best. We care for our neighbors and help when we are needed. We donate and volunteer. We work together to make the world a better place.

If we are not to devolve into a society that informs on each other out of fear; that hates each other because of disinformation on a Facebook page; that spreads lies because they fit the narrative of what we want to hear, then we have to change…at the most basic level.

I was raised that each of us has a responsibility to use the voice we have been given for the good of another, for the good of society. We have a responsibility to lift someone up. Each of us has the chance to break this awful cycle of meanness in which we find ourselves.

It begins with how we relate to each other. It begins when we demand better of our leaders than finger-pointing, name-calling (what are we, 6?) and false accusations simply because someone’s ideas of governance differ from theirs. No matter the side you’re on; the others are not enemies to be destroyed. They are fellow citizens who think differently. And true citizen patriots will fight for your right to say what they have fought against all of their lives. Because it’s your right to say it. What we say has consequences, as it should, but we have the right to speak freely.

It’s so easy now to write off those with whom we disagree; so easy to think of them as not smart, even evil, but are they? Sure, some pundits advocate violence and some unfortunate, unbalanced souls act on that rhetoric and I wish upon wishes that those talking heads could somehow be held accountable, but even they have the right to speak, as outrageous as they are.

Day to day, the people we encounter: our neighbors, colleagues, friends, family and acquaintances are mostly good people who want the same things we do. We all want safe communities; we want good schools where our kids can become well educated and well rounded. We want access to fresh food and water and healthcare so we can raise healthy families. We want a level playing field that affords all of us an equal chance to succeed.

I rarely get political, but I am tired. I think we all are weary of the ugliness, the discourse that lights up social media, but does nothing to further the health and happiness of humanity. It’s time we stood up for each other; defended the defenseless; spoke up for the voiceless.

As we cook together and gather our loved ones around the table in this shiny new year, let’s do so with the purpose of collectively being part of the solution and not part of the problem. Let the pundits talk to themselves; work themselves into a fake outrage while we, the people, stop listening to their nonsense and treat each other with love and kindness.

Have a peaceful and gloriously healthy 2024.