For those who believe a new year can bring change, moving from 2017 to 2018 will be welcomed, since most of us agree that this past year has been extraordinarily tumultuous and challenging, to say the least.
We’ve seen more of Mother Nature’s roar, with terrible destruction in so many places in our own country and abroad. Some of us have experienced only minor inconveniences like short-term power outages, while countless others have witnessed, directly, entire areas extinguished by hurricanes, flooding or fires.
When you add onto this the extreme political and economic divisions within our nation, it seems “never the twain shall meet,” unity of these United States seems unlikely, and we probably will not see any kind of major change in 2018.
With how we are “governed,” we may feel powerless, except to exercise our ability to vote into office those candidates most aligned with our ways of thinking and our basic values. If the climate changes have destroyed our homes, we can rebuild or choose to move away from those locations that seem continually threatened with dangerous occurrences, like wildfires or tornadoes, but relocation is not usually the reasonable choice.
Those in our generation, through decades of experience, have learned that it is nearly impossible to change anyone else, and trying to change the attitudes or behavior of a family member or a friend usually results in wasted effort and a strain in the relationship.
The Serenity Prayer continues to hold the best advice: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
What we do have control over is how we can, with effort and persistence, change ourselves. Celebrating the new year can be a time for reflection on what has just passed, the losses and the gains. It is also a time to let go of the past and consider what it is we want to bring in for the coming year.
You might ask yourself these questions:
How can I be a better version of myself? What qualities do I exhibit that could be improved upon?
What disturbs my peace of mind? Can I be less reactive and more accepting of myself and others?
Am I prioritizing my health needs by paying close attention to my body, mind and spiritual well-being?
Do I believe positive change in myself and in the world around me is even possible?
I think about the book that Ken Keyes Jr. published in 1982, “The Hundredth Monkey,” written at the height of the nuclear armaments buildup between the USA and the former USSR. His book concerns the devastating effect of nuclear war on the planet. This topic, alone, is so timely today for all of us.
Keyes presents the story of the 100th monkey as an inspirational parable, while applying it to human society. In this hypothetical phenomenon, a new behavior or idea is claimed to spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behavior or acknowledge the new idea.
Although the story is about monkeys, the message is that the human experience can improve if we have a global collective consciousness to solve whatever threat to civilization arises. When a certain critical number (like the 100th monkey) achieves an awareness, this new understanding may be communicated from mind to mind, throughout the world.
Wouldn’t it be extraordinarily wonderful if we witnessed a groundswell of world leaders who listened to the vast majority of people demanding a peaceful resolution to all our differences? How awesome would it be if we, as a civilization, put down the weapons of destruction and eliminated any further possibility of war?
Even though the years have gone by and we have seen few, if any, changes when it comes to our nation’s policy on gun control, I continue to be inspired by the words of the peacemaker John Lennon:
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one.
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.”