What do you admire more?
Grace, optimism, and compassion? Or hatred, divisiveness, and anger?
2017 was a very angry year. Here’re a few recent headlines:
We all know why we were angry in 2017. Take your pick of scandals, racists comments, attacks on our democracy, threats to our environment, and straight up lies. Our anger is justified. Our anger is righteous.
And our anger is real.
Yet, 2018 does not have to be a repeat of 2017. While our anger has helped us do some amazing things this year (like take down scumbags like Harvey Weinstein), we don’t have to choose anger in 2018. And I’m not talking about some Kumbaya nonsense where we pretend that we’re not angry. I am suggesting that we stop acting like the MAGA crowd and start acting like the people we strive to be.
Because what’s the point if we lose who we are along the way?
A Different Path Forward
Thinking back on 2017, hope was in short supply. Sure, we had some bright moments but they were always overshadowed by some new horrific thing Trump said, did or caused. We fueled that anger by ranting on social media, screaming at state-run Fox news, and surrounding ourselves with people who were equally outraged.
How many times did you think if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention?
When I asked if you admired hatred, divisiveness, and anger, you may have assumed I was talking about Trump’s base. Sure, they are among the angriest people on the planet. Yet, we’ve shown a lot of hatred, divisiveness, and anger this year, too. It’s been our go-to setting for the past 12 months.
We can’t pretend we’re not angry or outraged, but it doesn’t need to be our only guiding principle in 2018. We can be angry about what’s happened to our country and still find a positive way forward.
Choose “Relentless, Infectious Optimism”
I’m not sure if anyone exudes hope more than Barack Obama. And really, if President Obama can still be positive after all that’s been said about him and done to his legacy, we can too.
Here’s an excerpt from an email I received this morning:
“I saw that spirit all across America in people who chose to get involved, get engaged, and stand up not only to defend their rights, but more importantly, the rights of others. People who rejected cynicism and pessimism and pushed forward with a relentless, infectious optimism. Not a blind optimism that ignores the scale and scope of our challenges, but rather a hard-earned optimism rooted in the stories of real progress.
It’s a belief that each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try.”
That’s the kind of person I want to be. Sometimes it’s hard and I can’t quite get to hopeful. That’s when I turn to this speech. I know he was speaking directly to us and he knew these words would help us find the light in a very, very dark year.
Finding Your True North This Year
2018 is a big election year. It’s going to get dark, dirty and depressing. And who knows what chaos Trump has planned? Imprison John Oliver? Invade Canada? Proclaim that California is a hostile foreign entity? Insult the Queen of England?
Wait, I’m pretty sure he’s already done that one…
Think of 2018 as a journey with hope as your true North. We know it’s going to get worse and we’re going to get angry. That’s a given. But we can always find our way back to hope and optimism. I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy, just that its possible.
When times get tough, just remember that we are the oppositive of the MAGA crowd. That means we’re the Yes, We Can people. And we can only be those people if we chose hope over hatred.