What an opportunity for all of us … this beginning of a new year. The perfect time to forgive old injuries, tell family and friends we love them, make new commitments to be/do better in the new year and figure out how to go forward in 2022. It is also a suitable time to reflect on the old.
Reflecting was what I was doing on New Year’s Day. I took a walk with my dog, Cedar, along a rural road near my home. The sun was bright, the recent snow was melting. While the many acorn woodpeckers in our area made themselves heard, a pileated woodpecker joined in with loud tapping for accompaniment. Not one, but two adult bald eagles passed low overhead, a red-tailed hawk soared far above the nearby meadow, and a flock of starling burst up from the cow pasture I passed … forming a graceful murmuration. The ewes, along with their lambs in varying stages of newness, relaxed, chewing the new grass in their field. The lambs racing to their mothers for liquid comfort at the sight of Cedar. It really was a miracle of a morning. The perfect start to the new year.
The perfect start to a new year that will include plenty of suffering and sadness. Climate change threatens our world. The ongoing pandemic has made many people feel hopeless and beaten. Our country is divided. Our county is struggling with opposing ideas and ideals. For some this is a time for struggle. A wise friend said to me recently, “A good poker player does not watch the other players that know how to handle a good poker hand. They watch and learn from the players that know how to deal with a bad poker hand.” It struck me as a great analogy for life. How do we deal with this hand we have been dealt right now?
John Lewis once said, “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.” Our generation will be looked back upon as either a dark period in the history of democracy or as a generation that continued to bring the best out in our country, through commitment, challenging work, generosity of spirit and love. We can watch a troubled minority try to tear down our country or stand up to those who choose intimidation, confrontation, and anger. We can choose to stand up for our democracy with understanding, assertiveness rather than aggression, by working together to protect voting rights, by supporting our overwhelmed health care system and the law enforcement individuals that work toward keeping all people safe equally. We can rally around our beleaguered educators who believe science and our true history matter and support the people in our government who strive toward racial equity, equality, justice, and mercy — those ideals that make this country great.
Use the early days of 2022 to look forward and visualize what the world could look like for our children, our future generations. Then we can model behaviors our children can look up to and emulate. We can be remembered as the generation that did our part. We found positive ways to deal with the bad hand we may have been dealt, and we lit the way for our future generations.