A letter to 2017


Dear 2017,

Let’s face it you have not been the easiest year for us humans here on planet Earth.  But I think you came with a mission and a purpose and you have been tearing through your  “to do” list with a passion.  Based on results, you are probably right now congratulating yourself for a job well done.  Let’s see, what have you accomplished so far this year? (Let us not forget there are still more than 24 hours left in the year and at the pace you’ve been “working” you could still wield a mighty wrecking ball of change to top everything you’ve already done.)

1. Dismantling the patriarchy-  

You began in earnest the dismantling of a patriarchal system that has stood in place for roughly 15,000 years.  No small task!  This has been on your “to do” list for centuries and although you’ve long been making plans for it’s manifestation on this plane, this year, you outdid yourself.  We are now perfectly clear about your intention, and while we applaud it in principle, I don’t think any of us thought it would take this long or be this hard or painful.  Old systems die-hard and this one has roots that grow deeply to the core of every culture and country on earth.  

But we’re on to you now and those of us awake enough to realize the necessity of this massive change, are now prepared to do whatever it takes to support your efforts, even though we know there will be pain and suffering in your wake.  We are awake, we are committed, and ready to move humanity along the continuum of its evolution.  

Everything else on this list is a by-product of #1 and part of the plan to achieve it.

2. Exposing our collective shadow-

You gave us plenty of chances to make these massive changes on our own without pushing our faces in it, and for awhile, it looked as though we had gotten on board with moving the ball down the field towards realizing our highest aspirations as human beings.  For a while this century, we appeared to transcend our deepest wound as a nation.  But it turns out it was only a peek into what’s possible and not a true transformation for we are now experiencing a severe backlash, exposing the core wound of our culture; racism.  Because as a country, we have never fully acknowledged our “original sin”; slavery, or atoned for it, we are still operating over the top of that wound, never bringing it into the light for healing.  It will take massive social change for this to happen, but here’s the good news:  we are witnessing that change happening right now.  The seeds have been planted and the younger generations growing up today are demonstrating an intolerance for the consciousness that has perpetuated the old system of racism and exclusion.  

Even as events appear to be devolving, know that we are going through the painful process of birthing a new consciousness.  All of us alive today have come to mid-wife this process.   As our recent president, Barack Obama reminded us, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for”.  I believe this to be true.  We are the ones who have chosen to be here to stand in the midst of this dismantling, this exposure of our dark side, and to be the force of change and healing necessary to our own evolution.  Every single life matters. 

3. Black Lives Matter – 

2017, this year, you made us aware that while all lives indeed do matter, and all lives deserve to be lifted up and celebrated, to heal our core national wound requires that we acknowledge and lift up the importance to our American identity that Black Lives Matter to us.  That black culture is so deeply ingrained in our identity as a nation, we need to acknowledge and celebrate the overwhelming contributions African Americans have made to this country.  From building our nation’s capitol as slaves, to producing our finest achievements as scholars, thinkers, musicians, athletes, doctors, writers, religious teachers, and leaders in every aspect of American life.  Black women and men have literally been the backbone of this nation and we need to say so and celebrate that.  Until we do, we are not free to evolve into our highest and best.  Ironically, people of color, who have operated outside being fully accepted as equals are here to teach us white people of privilege the lessons of forgiveness and redemption, resilience, and faith.  We are not here to free them.  They have already claimed their freedom.  We are the ones who are still held captive to centuries of prejudice and bigotry.  2017, you came to make it perfectly clear to us that it is long past time for us white people to free ourselves from our own past limited thinking.  It’s all part of a greater plan for humanity to know itself as part of the one great cosmic, creative force.  

4. The Impact of Fear and Demagoguery- 

2017, you forced us to look squarely into the eyes of our worst nightmares; of a possible nuclear holocaust that could obliterate life as we know it, of catastrophic climate change that has already begun to change the way we live, of demagoguery in the highest office of the land and it’s potential for transforming our democracy into an authoritarian, autocratic way of governing, unleashing changes in our way of life yet unimaginable.  We have suffered a kind of “national nervous breakdown”, leaving many of us traumatized, like children of an alcoholic parent who live in constant fear of what unspeakable event could happen at the drop of a pin.  We’re discovering that we’re either up to the task of rising up to meet this kind of consciousness it with our own fierce commitment to inclusion, equality and freedom, or some of us are finding that we’re not up to the task of facing fear at this level.  We’re allowing ourselves to be beaten by it.  We’re buying into our own smallness and becoming our own personal demagogues, falling prey to the voices inside us that tell us we’re not worthy, not enough, and can’t do it.  This is where the awakened ones get to step up, reach out, take the hands of those in fear, and shine a light, and illuminate the darkness.  That’s our job now.  

5. MeToo- 

2017, you are the year that finally woke up women and insisted that they could no longer stifle their voices, invalidate their experiences, continue to tolerate the kind of misogyny, sexual assault, harassment and disrespect women have endured throughout human history.  You are the year where women found the courage to come together, to listen to, be heard and support one another to claim and know their truth.  You are the year that cancelled the free passes men have exercised for centuries over how they treated women.  No more free passes.  Men can expect to be held accountable and responsible for their behavior towards women.  And women will also be held accountable and responsible for taking their lives into their own hands, owning their power, speaking their voices, knowing their worth.  Amen!

6. Love is the way –

Lastly, 2017, you came to show us that love is the way through this darkness.  It’s the only way we’re going to make it through and out to the other side.  You came to empower every one of us to look beyond our outward differences and be able to see the humanity in each of us, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation.  Or political persuasion.  Yes, that one.  We are as divided as a nation as we’ve been since the Civil War.  We’ve forgotten that we are all bound by a common love of country, that in spite of outward differences and belief systems, there is more that unites than divides us.  Just let a foreign power or alien system grace our shores and see how quickly we unite in defense of all we hold dear.  

All the great spiritual teachers, perennial philosophies, philosophers, scholars, scientists, and great leaders have come to teach this:  We must understand our true nature.  Who we are, is Love.  Love is all there is.  In spite of what may appear to be its opposite, war, poverty, injustice, crime, etc. these are happening in the consciousness of fear and it is the collective We who can change that.  We have it in our power.  Naysayers will say this is not the truth.  That mankind has never been a force for peace, that there will always be conflict and war and inequality and all the things that keep us separate and divorced from Love.  

That is a distinct possibility.  For if we keep going in the direction we’ve been going, we can expect to reap the same results. We are not stupid.  We know this.  And we are right now paying the price for having not changed our ways.  

7.  Lastly, thank you 2017 - 

2017, we must thank you for all the hard lessons you’ve brought us.  For showing us what doesn’t work, what we don’t want, what we’re no longer willing to tolerate or accept, and the prices we will continue to pay if we don’t change course.  And we must thank you for taking the wrecking ball to our old systems that no longer serve, for awakening women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, to honor who they are and the contributions they make to our society to truly continue to have America be great.  Not again.  But in spite of everything, still.

We know that we are engaged in a long journey of transformation as 2018 approaches.  I for one, have no illusions about the new year being any easier than the last.  While it’s tempting to wish for ease and comfort in the New Year, or to declare one’s self “inactive”, a bench warmer, an observer to all that may come going forward, as one who is about to turn 76 in a couple of months, I have never been more clear or committed or passionate about the work that lies ahead.  I might not be around to see the results of that work, but you can bet I will out there on the field, playing my heart out, urging each of us to bring our A game to the work at hand.  

And with that, I wish you all an adventurous, creative, fulfilling New Year.  See you on the field in 2018.  

Judith RichComment