Dear 2017,

This weekend you will take your very first breaths. On your first day, I will slow and sit down, hold you to my chest, and wait until my breathing is synched perfectly with yours. 

You are born innocent, but much damage was done by 2016. You, sweet one, are born addicted to self-righteousness. Although we acknowledge this has become dangerously oppositional, it is hard to stop because it is generally well-intentioned. Your withdrawals from self-righteousness will be devastating to witness. You may tremor, seizure, vomit, cry. Perhaps we will have a Hindu mundan ceremony as it is meant “to rid the baby of negativity from their past life and cleanse the child’s body and soul” and we will pierce your ears to ward off evil. Some people will “baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” and others will whisper the adhan in your right ear as the first words you hear. Your Shinto parents will take you to your family shrine for the miyamairi, asking for your protection.  Your Sikh parents will celebrate you and read from Guru Granth Sahib. There will be fireworks.

Then you and I will both get to work. Your responsibility is to take all 7.4 billion of us living humans and countless ancestors, animals and sacred plants on a cruise around the sun and back again. So galactic. And you only have 365 days (your entire, beautiful lifetime) to do this. 

As we travel, some will ask that you bring them prosperity or at least the opportunity to pursue it. Many will need health or miracles at a bargain price.  Some will need comfort in their grief, shame, terror or violation. Some will beg for an end to wars while also struggling for important victory beyond generations. Some will be passionate for themselves and their own family, others will begin their goodwill with strangers beyond borders.

You should know that in 2016, prosperity and progress were at each other’s throats. When differing human quests conflict with one another, let you be the year we master collaboration; together, may we enjoy some of the good life while also dismantling violence in its many forms. That harm is sometimes hard to see and includes “physical, emotional, verbal, institutional, structural or spiritual behavior, attitude, policy or condition that diminishes, dominates or destroys others and ourselves.” You will learn that many of your predecessors have been sickeningly cruel in their biases, greed and injustices. We have hope in your potential to right those wrongs. bring rights and dignity to all people no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender identity, physical or mental ability, or age. You and I can look to 1865, 1919, 1965, 1973, 2015, among others as inspiration for social progress. They did some good work in their time.

As a parent I am excited to teach you to walk, then run, then dance, and maybe revolt, but your first steps will be steps of simple greeting. Your feet will meet the ground for the first time. Hello, forsa saida, nice to meet you. You don’t have time to be timid or naive, yet as your Jain family will be teaching you, harmlessness is the path to happiness and liberation.

Welcome to the world, 2017. Let’s lean into today and tomorrow’s principals of Kwanzaa (Nia: purpose, Kuumba: creativity) and do some good.

 

With the hope and resilience of a General Organa,

Shawn

 

 

Photo: Flckr user, Derrick Lee

 

 

 

 

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