It is currently very fashionable to want 2016 to die.
After all, this is the year that so many celebrities drew their last breath.
This, apparently, is shocking. I heard a news commentary suggesting that we are all ‘reeling from the news’ of all these dead stars. Are we so shocked that death visits even the famous and rich?
In other news, people living lives outside of the spotlight have also died.
Apparently people die. And…people are born.
Battles too, are won and battles are lost. Whether on the playground, in board rooms or over international borders, our world is in a constant state of flux.
There is one other constant; our tendency to dig in our heels and hurt others. This, unfortunately, has never been in dispute. There are more refugees in the world at this time than any other period in history. Meanwhile, racism and hatred have been given validation and permission in a Trump-elect world.
But there are other things that happened in 2016.
Joy was also brought into the world. For every vile act performed by some recently emboldened hate group (Alt-right my ass, let us name it for what it is), there were even more community acts of kindness (as seen in this article).
People are rallying together, united with a common goal of furthering connection and countering hatred. We are realizing it is our duty to stand up for those who are vilified.
For those of us who have read our history books, we can see what is coming and it doesn’t look good. But we must also remember that it is up to us to ensure that the light of love triumphs over the dark of hatred. It is incumbent upon each of us to let our goodness shine.
As we so often do at this time of the year, I watched Jimmy Stewart perform in It’s A Wonderful Life. Right on cue, I cried as Harry Bailey realized how many lives he had touched and transformed through his life. What I’d never realized before was that during the filming of that show, James Stewart was in the middle of a crisis about his art and life. He had just returned after twenty months of bombing missions and was suffering with PTSD. He could barely eat and suffered from nightmares and insomnia.
In this Chicago Tribune article we read, “…he (Stewart) was questioning the superficiality of Hollywood and acting in general, and Lionel Barrymore (who plays Mr. Potter) said to him, “So, are you saying it’s more worthwhile to drop bombs on people than to entertain them?”
Jim Stewart made a decision that day and decided that making art was a worthwhile way to spend his life. Because of that decision, millions of viewers have received an annual Christmas message of hope and love. He chose to create art and, by doing so, he created more of what is good and positive in the world.
It stuns me to think about what incredible odds we all face, just to be alive at this exact moment. On top of that gift, we have the wondrous ability to choose love, art and creation or hate, ugliness and destruction. We can choose whether to live in light or add to the darkness in the world.
Each day I can make the decision; love, goodness, art. Each day, through encounters both ‘random’ or decided, I create the world I inhabit. Connection is always within reach.
We make up our reality, one gesture, one act at a time.
As the song says, “We ARE the world.”
So yes, 2016 definitely had its dark moments, yet here we are…still alive, still able to choose, still focused on building a better world, one act of love and creation at a time.
May your 2017 be a blessing to you and to all those you encounter.
Happy New Year!
As John Cheever said, “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss—you can’t do it alone.” So thank you all for your continued support, for reading and sharing my posts and continuing to participate in this particular form of creation.
Because of you I am a writer.