This year the weight of communal pain and expectation seems especially heavy on account of a political age that defies easy categorization. The New Year will bring a new Congress and maybe a report from the Special Counsel. It will likely bring a bevy of presidential candidates and the fight for 2020 now begins in earnest. It will be a year of change, and likely in ways none of us can predict. But that is true of many years. New Years ends up being more about where we are than the unpredictability of where we are going.
I am old enough to remember many New Years, ones that were harrowing and ones that were uplifting (and many that were frankly unremarkable). I remember New Years at war. And New Years of peace. I remember New Years of social unrest and New Years of domestic tranquility. I remember New Years of personal grief and New Years of joy.
You do not need me to overwhelm you with too many specifics of the year that’s been. We have been on a journey together and have shared many moments. I will note that I think perhaps two of the biggest stories of the past year, outside of the specifics of our political world, will end up being the beginning of a reckoning with social media and the deadly cost of climate change becoming ever more apparent.
But today, I want to share with you a spirit of hope and resolve. My biggest take away from 2018 is an affirmation of what I already knew. We are a global community and the vast majority of us share basic values. We want peace and justice. We believe in truth and science. We yearn for decency and love. And we are willing to stand up to be counted, to lend our voice and our sweat to the effort. I do not minimize the dark forces at play or the power they wield. I believe they however have underestimated the resistance. In using this word, I do not mean in the simply political sense. I mean a resistance to mean-spiritedness and cynicism. A resistance to gaslighting and bullying. A resistance to false equivalence and the undermining of our civic institutions.
I see new leaders and new movements. I see millions awoken from the slumber of complacency. Many are saying that they can’t wait for 2018 to be over, and I can understand the sentiment. But I believe we may look back at this year as a turning point where the tides of inequity, intolerance, and repression peaked against a bulwark of dignity and resolve. The future has yet to be written. It is not predetermined. And I know many of you want to help bend its course towards greater justice.
I am an optimist by nature and experience. That outlook on life has guided me through periods of darkness. I stand at the precipice of 2019, alongside all of you, and breath deep a spirit of empathy and a determination to do our part to help make this world a better place.
Happy New Year.