If you are over the age of 10, odds are you aren’t a fan of 2016. And there are probably some nine year olds who might agree as well. Of course we have our own personal highs and lows, triumphs and great moments, but on the whole, it’s been a tough one.
You have the celebrity losses — and yes, we can argue that they don’t personally affect us, but whether you are a child of pre-millennial decades, literature, music, movie or sports fan, one of the numerous significant celebrity deaths had to have touched you in some way. Most recently, we lost actress, author and advocate Carrie Fisher and her mother, Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds, within a day of each other. But this year we also said goodbye to actor Gene Wilder, musicians George Michael, David Bowie and Prince, beloved Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson, actor Alan Rickman, two founding members of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee, boxer and activist Muhammad Ali, multi-talented show business icon Garry Marshall, pitcher José Fernández at only 24, and golf legend Arnold Palmer — just to name a few.
But that, for the most part, isn’t our life. The last year has also been held hostage by a bitter and disheartening election that in some ways ended on Election Day, but in many ways its toxicity has continued.
That election cycle has fanned the flames of intolerance from all sides. It’s allowed some to create an intense distrust of the media. It’s made it difficult for us to talk to our children about what there is to believe in at a time when we long so much to believe.
Now 2016 has come to an end, and like the years, we must also go on.
It’s time to change our views and our approach. If 2016 has taught us anything, it is that time is short and all we can change is ourselves and our own contributions. And while it seems small, it isn’t.
Rip the last page of 2016’s calendar off the wall, but don’t throw it away; remember its lessons. Remember where we don’t want to be, and make where we are going different. We’re all in the same boat. If you’re not rowing, but instead criticizing your fellow passengers’ techniques, all you’re doing is standing still, or worse, keeping this boat going in the same circles.
Make 2017 a new start. Listen more. Judge less. Believe that humanity is inherently good, for the most part — because it is. Give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Don’t fear the future. Get out and meet it, and each other, half-way. Try to see things from another viewpoint. A living thing that hides from the sun because it fears the rain withers in its own self-fulfilling prophecy.
For all of us, that sunlight is hope — it’s a risk, a frightening one — but it is necessary for us to survive and thrive.
Make 2017 the year of hope — in yourself, and in all of us making it a change for the better.
Happy New Year, Darien.