I sit here just a couple of hours before the beginning of a new year. As most people I know would agree, this past year was probably the most challenging and divisive year we have seen … well … in my lifetime at least. I was born in 1968, what can be considered a banner year in the Civil Rights movement. Now, almost 50 years later, it seems we are fighting some of those same issues again, and more.
Racial equality, women’s rights, gender inclusion, immigration, religious tolerance … you name it, someone is out there trying to bash someone for it. And this divisiveness is being led by the one person who should be working most to bring our country together – our President. Instead of a leader who seeks to inspire us and help us to create a better future, we have a toddler who spends more time tweeting and golfing. And our best-case scenario at this point is that he resigns before he is impeached for what is effectively treason.
2017 was the year that we learned we cannot trust out current leadership. There are some who are trying to do the right things, but they seem to be outnumbered for the moment. We will not be able to change that fact until the elections in November. Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it?
With all this chaos and negativity, we must also remember that 2017 was the year of empowerment. Women finally reached a point of collective anger ... enough to start calling predatory men to account for their actions. Powerful men in politics, entertainment, and business are all beginning to face the consequences of treating women as their own personal property.
People of color are finding their voice and demanding their right to justice. Our society is not even close to being where it should be on racial equality, but the rise of heroes such as Colin Kaepernick and the blatant injustice of recorded acts of police brutality are forcing us as a society to confront our dark past. The apparent rise of the KKK, alt-right, and the neo-Nazis is actually forcing people to decide where they stand and then defend that decision. And no one can deny the power of those women of color in Alabama who came out to vote ensuring that an accused pedophile and avowed racist went down in flames.
2017 has taught us that we can harness our collective power of righteous rage. Whether it is by walking in a protest, running for office, helping out at a voter drive, donating for refugees, calling your congressmen, defending immigrants, or whatever, more people have participated in our Great Society this past year than ever before. That is the spirit to carry in the New Year.
Stay determined, stay focused, and stay hopeful. We have accomplished a lot this past year. Together, we can accomplish even more in 2018.