Welcome to 2021?
I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond to the events in Washington DC and Olympia this week and it’s hard to encapsulate into a cute message or quick slogan. So, I understand if you don’t want to take a few minutes to consider this message.
First, I was blessed to enjoy another birthday this week, as was my wife. We are grateful to be enjoying good health and relative prosperity. While most of you haven’t celebrated a birthday this week, we all anticipated and celebrated a New Year with high hopes that 2021 would bring us significant positive changes from the challenges of 2020.
This week’s unrest shattered our hopes for only positive events in 2021. But it really shouldn’t. Every day, week, month and year presents us with challenges, struggles, victories and opportunities. Yes, we’d all like to have not had this week’s shameful events occur but what it mostly illustrates is our lack of control over events in the world at large. For some, this frustration seems devastating and bubbles over to more vitriol and quick shouts of anger. This, however, doesn’t provide any of us more control or positive changes or steps forward in our lives.
I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I do make prayers and commitments to a word or two to help focus and guide my actions for the New Year. This year, my words are presence and focus. These can help me recognize opportunities and solutions to what I want, need and can control. Opportunities and actions I can take that I can control to help others and myself to move ahead in life.
Wednesday’s events presented many nauseating feelings and initial anger but with no place or options to effect change. Screaming at the TV, computer screen or text boxes doesn’t really help me, you or the situation. Calm, presence and focus helps me to recognize that I needed to state this message with hopes that it can help you and others to recognize there is a huge consensus of dismay and disgust to these events. We’re not as divided as the media and the quick-tempered flood of remarks presents.
We effect change by controlling ourselves, making conscious decisions of what we want, who we talk with and support, who we elect to offices and policies we want to see enacted. There are lots of quips we’ve heard for “being the change”, “start with the man in the mirror”, etc. that should remind us that change does begin with each of us. We also need to recognize and call out when all forms of extreme idiocy are present and not just ones we don’t agree with. Relativism in life is a difficult and risky scale to balance. Burning down and breaking into innocent businesses is no more acceptable than Wednesday’s events. Hiding behind banners and within groups of people voicing real concerns, only to sneak out and be an anarchist or general vandalism shouldn’t provide you shelter, anymore than carrying our Flag in your fits of outrage does. Wrong is wrong.
I hope we will not let Wednesday’s events dampen our optimism for this year. We’ve been isolated too much in 2020 and we need to broaden our perspectives and step out of our bunkers from which hate speech and too narrow of focus has encased or buried us. Recognize that all of us want to be heard but voices of hate don’t generate bridges or audiences that truly listen or hear you. Calm focus and being present with others will show us bridges and help us find new joys in 2021.
Returning to “normal” never really happens. Change is constant and inevitable, and with these changes, our normal changes. Decency, however, can return; patience can prevail and perspective that half-truths and intentional deceit, no matter by whom, are tools of division. We all have a burden to seek a fuller and better understanding of other’s perspectives so that solutions and normalcy can return and prevail.
I hope you’ll join me in not giving up on 2021—many challenges are and will continue to present themselves but we are stronger than we know. We’re not as isolated as you might think. Gain control of yourself, change your focus and be present—willing to listen, accept—or at lease widen your perspective and exchange calm ideas and hopes with others.
Most of us have so many blessings we take for granted. 2020 pointed out many that most of us overlooked. Instead of recognizing the real opportunities presented, it was too easy to poke fun at our misery. I too fell into this mentality. But for many, they gained time and opportunity none of us imagined could present itself, for us to really be with and enjoy our close friends and family; our child’s first days or loved ones last days.
Focus on your blessings—what you focus on expands, not the media hype of derision and division; certainly not the political speeches of blame. There’s plenty of blame to go around, no matter the people or parties involved. Sadly, this blaming is attempted leadership by and through the rearview mirror; not focusing on the options in front of us. The change we seek is in front of us and looking backward rarely leads to a path of positive change to guide us.
Regardless of your resolutions or perspective, I hope we all enjoy a 2021 with blessings beyond our imaginations and the courage to face your challenges with focus and a broader perspective. It’s been said that wisdom comes with age; not sure I can believe that, but age usually means the opportunity to have made many more mistakes. Hopefully seeing this week’s mistakes will help us all find a better path forward. Best wishes to us all in 2021.