REFLECTIONS ON THE NEW YEAR
I love this time of year. With the hectic pace of Christmas behind me, I now have the time to look forward to what lies ahead. It’s the time of year when we evaluate ourselves and our lives and we decide to be better. And we succeed. Many of us may feel frustrated that we have fallen short of overly ambitious resolutions that we failed to manifest in our life last year. But we do get better. Humanity is more peaceful, we are more educated, we are more just, and we are more self-aware than we have ever been. We absolutely have more to do, but we have already made great strides. Change is never the straight line upward to the successes that we want. The line advances and regresses, but it mostly continues to improve, despite setbacks. If we look at the progress we’ve made, we’ll see we’ve changed culture radically in a short time. Think about what life was like just fifty years ago. We change because of those resolutions we each make to find a better way. This is what defines us as people.
It's easy to lose confidence that we’re going to make it out of the climate crisis. It’s easy to despair at the state of our government, and our world. We ask, “What can our small actions possibly matter in a world as vast and complicated as ours? Isn’t our government the only solution? Does what I do really matter?” These fears are paralyzing, and they’re inaccurate. It DOES matter what each of us does: every day we vote with our behavior, with our choices, and with our money. Throughout history we see the “power of one” at work in many of the big changes that have been made. Our challenge is to begin to see, as the saying goes, that “we’re the answer that we are looking for.”
When we truly understand the issues behind the climate crisis, we realize that everything has to change, and it’s difficult to imagine how it can possibly happen. I don’t know about you, but my life has unfolded in a way I could not possibly have imagined. Life never fails to surprise. I don’t believe we can always imagine the future. We have challenges like no other generation before us, but we have the opportunities that come with them. Opportunities always lie in the hardships we face. We have the chance to remake a world that is more just, that cooperates and supports the natural world, and that redefines our view of success.
So, this New Year, I’m asking my fellow citizens to resolve to do better, to show up, and to forsake convenience and habit, and to make better choices. We need to understand we’ll fall short. We need to vow to not waste time beating ourselves up for our shortcomings but to keep trying to do better. But most of all I’m asking you to realize the power that lies within you to change your little piece of the world. If we all affect our spheres of influence, we can make changes that add up to a tipping point. We don’t need to wait for the government to save us; we don’t need to wait for technology to save us; we need to save ourselves, one action at a time. For myself I’m taking inspiration from a poem by Martha Postlewaite that I’ve read again and again. It illustrates the way each of us can do our part.
by Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there patiently
until the song that is yours alone to sing
falls into your cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.
I personally have a lot to change, and the New Year gives me fresh motivation to work on it. I am energized. We CAN accomplish a great deal in a short time. We just need to choose to do it.