January 1, 2017
My default setting is optimism. I’m a silver-lining kind of gal. 2016 tested that outlook in a number of ways. Within my family and within my group of friends, there was personal, financial, and emotional upheaval. With each new challenge, each new obstacle, I tried to remain hopeful. I am practiced at seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And for the most part, I have retained that ability.
The end of this year, however, nearly had me at my breaking point. The election was disheartening, depressing, maddening—something that found me in new territory. It’s hard for me to see the silver lining here, to be honest. The divisiveness and ugliness I’ve seen speaks to a dissatisfaction that has been given voice in an environment that is designed to nurture and grow that ugliness. It’s a vicious weed that threatens to overtake and choke out anything else if we turn our back on it for even a moment.
Does this sound alarmist? Perhaps. But what I have realized is that as difficult as it may seem on any given day, we just can’t give up. We can’t turn our backs and hope for the best. In a world where hate is being cultivated by the man who will soon take the helm of our country, passive hope is simply not enough. The only way we can combat the ugliness we see is to actively seek out opportunities to create positivity and unity. Speak where you see injustice. Give voice to the voiceless. Give time, money, and energy to organizations that promote social and financial benefit to the underserved in your communities. Make sure your local, state, and national representatives know your mind and hold them accountable to vote your conscious as your representative. Encourage everyone you know to do the same.
This is our new year, and the beginning of a new reality in the United States. This is the time of year it is customary to make trite and predictable resolutions that generally end in broken diet promises to the self by mid-January. I am proposing this year that we need to make a different kind of resolution, and be vigilant about keeping this promise to ourselves. Hope is nice; hope is a lovely sentiment. But now, more than ever before, we need to resolve to make that hope action, and not rely on passive good feelings. We tried that in November; it didn’t work. If we reframe what hope looks like, we have a chance at change—a chance to right the ship. We have the ability to find the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a very strong feeling that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t going to come to us; we’ve got to diligently pursue it. I’m not ready to give up my optimism. I’m just going to have to resolve to work harder make it an active movement. Perhaps that will result in a silver-lining after all.