2016 ended simply for me. New Year’s typically involves a ride to Charleston, a party some place, a hotel room for the night, and the Polar Bear Plunge at Sullivan’s Island. Not a bad way to spend the holiday. Nevertheless, I kept New Year’s simple this go-round, choosing instead to stay in Columbia among intimate friends. We had the food we wanted, the booze we needed, and a nice warm fire. This happened somewhat by accident and somewhat by design. We all agreed to an intimate New Year’s celebration, but our plans for woodcock hunting on Edisto Island, and renting a house at Sullivan’s Island, fell through. Oh well, maybe next year.
Many will tell you this was a horrible year. Worst ever.
(insert celebrity name here) has died.
2016 campaign and it’s results
Terror attack in (insert country here).
Racism. Sexism. Homophobia.
On-going Syrian refugee crisis, and Aleppo
Terror threats…all the time. Everywhere.
…the list goes on.
Still, I cannot say 2016 was the worst year ever. It wasn’t. It was just another year. One year in what I hope to be several more throughout my life.
However, I wholly admit to finding a rather interesting trend during observation of 2016. Fear. I observed a great deal of fear and it’s influence over people’s decisions, and how they react to events.
Let’s look at the number of celebrity deaths in 2016. I’m not really sure if we lost more celebs in 2016, if their deaths were more tragic, or if the artists just happened to be more famous. Death in and of itself is not always a tragedy, not in my beliefs and opinions. I believe we are luminous beings, and that death is a natural part of life. Did you think they’d live forever? Granted, some of these folks lived and died tragically, but many also completed their journey naturally. We should all hope to be as fortunate as those who leave a mark or piece of ourselves, some form of art or offspring, serving as evidence of our existence before passing to the beyond. That’s my hope for all of us.
Then there’s the 2016 Election. What a tell-tale of our ignorance. We’re supposed to be the tough ‘Mericans, yet we scare so easy. We fear terrorism and immigration as our demise, yet bravely stuff our faces with traditional ‘Merican foods, contributing to the number one killer of ‘Mericans…Heart disease, a death-by-1000-cuts-type of ritual suicide one meal at a time. I’ll have a super-sized order of fries with my wall across the border, and a Diet Coke. (You know walls are also built to keep people in, right)?
And in the interest of avoiding any political slant, I say a plague of both their houses. Nothing happens in a vacuum and neither did the social and political landscape of 2016. It spawned from what I see as the fear-trends in our culture. Nowadays, we marinate ourselves in an echo-chamber of our choosing (left-leaning or right-leaning) via internet or cable network, forgoing the pesky task of civil discourse and critical thinking. This allows us to leap directly to the conclusion that we know everything. We fear learning something new. Instead, we vie for supremacy in a shouting match, learning nothing from one another in the process.
Fear is a necessity. Without it, we hazard our lives in reckless abandon. Fear can keep us safe. However, if we let it control us, if we allow ourselves to be driven by it, our minds and lives will be consumed.
In 2017, events may transpire beyond our immediate control, making us afraid. However, we do have control of our mind and how we react to these events, regardless of their challenge. Our individual reaction contributes collectively to a positive, or negative, outcome.
I hope you will join me in trying to be a better, less fearful and more capable, version of myself. In doing this, we can improve our own lives and perhaps the lives of those around us, which might improve our world one relationship at a time…or, at least a little part of it.
Featured image: Valentin Melik painting of Montagues and Capulets