The Gift of a Hard Year

As 2017 winds to a close, I find myself avoiding annual retrospectives like the plague. I have no desire to relive nor even remember the last twelve months, filled as they were with so much horror – personal, political, and otherwise.

(But that’s not all there was, is it?)

Politically, societally, this has been a year like none other I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. It has been a year in which facts became subordinate to ideology, integrity to political idolatry, critical thinking to fear. It was a year of lies, and of tenacious, willful ignorance in the face of those lies.

But that wasn’t all it was.

(It’s never all it is.)

365 is a lot of days. No matter how dark some of those days were this year, we can’t allow them to eclipse the moments of light. Of life. Of growth and progress and connection and community. Of understanding and compassion and empathy. Of faith. Of gratitude. Of laughter. Of joy.

No matter how hard they may be, if we long for nothing but kicking the years in the ass on their way out the door, we might just wind up denying ourselves the souvenirs we were meant to take from them: the memories, the lessons, the love.

In the midst of everything else, 2017 was a year of awakening, of reckoning, of energizing and organizing, of resisting and evolving and clear, determined voices emerging from silence.

It was a year in which the grandest, most outrageous lies revealed the deepest, most profound truths.

It was a year in which, by exposing the worst of who we are, we found the seeds of the best of who we can be.

It was a year in which we began to understand that we must not simply resist the regressive pull into our own violent history, but rather insist on catapulting ourselves, individually and collectively, forward into a better future.

It was a year in which we learned that it is not enough to be satisfied with the progress that we’d made, but that we must instead commit ourselves to reaching the place that so many of us had convinced ourselves we already were.

(We cannot unsee what the lies have shown us to be true.)

Michelle Obama once said, “Being President doesn’t change who you are -- it reveals who you are.” In much the same way, 2017 didn’t change who we are, my friends; it revealed who we are. And it gave us that revelation — the deep, unflinching truth that we are not yet who we want to be. No matter how hard it has been to accept, it’s a hell of a gift.

What we do with it will be for 2018 to reveal.

May it be a far better year.

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