Are you about ready for a new year?
In just a few hours, 2020 is going to be gone…
But just like race and the boundaries of a country are constructs, so to an extent is time.
It’s not as if when the clock strikes 12 [as it already has in New Zealand and Australia and will across Asia and Europe before it hits us and then the Americas and other countries a decent time after] something magical happens and suddenly everything is different. For the most part, the new year happens in our minds. As has been pointed out, if we say next year’s date out loud it sounds a lot like “2020 won” and if you, like me take it another year further you get hit with “2020 too!”
Nothing is going to change. The world is still going to be in a big fat stinking mess of climate and planet disintegration and vastly spreading disease [numbers suggest closing on 2 million deaths but we will never really know exactly what the numbers were] and racism and sexism and general plonkerism on the internets. A growing chasm between those who have far more than they can ever even use and those who have not what they need just to make it safely and healthily through the day. And people justifying those gaps and declaring how incredibly deserved it is that a soccer player can make a million this week while someone dies from not being able to access clean water because, of course i’m the stupid one and i just don’t understand how these things work. Or something.
Unless something changes, things will stay the same
The clock will tick over. And a new year will be declared. And corks will be popped by those who had the finances and foresight to be prepared in time. And alternative means of celebrating for those who didn’t. But nothing will have changed.
That is, unless we decide to change things. You and i. And the people we know and the communities we are a part of. The churches or faith spaces we are aligned with and the businesses we work for. And so on.
Nothing will change, unless it changes. And change it must. Because 2020 for so many people was a crappy crappy year.
Not so much for me. i mean, it was frustrating to not be able to see all of our people and some of our people at all and to not be able to do a Durban trip and see some of my favourite people in the world or to play live board games and have spectators at hockey matches and do live church with the people we love. But for the most part, i had it fairly good and most people i know found this year a lot harder than i did.
It feels like with some people, on the race stuff, we saw some movement. White people starting to understand privilege and the need to get involved in anti-racism work both in themselves and in their communities. And starting to do the work. i saw this and it was great.
And we saw some amazing outreach work being done during lockdown from voucher systems [church/community] to the establishment of CANs [Community Action Network] to the continuing work of Common Change groups who pool money to do good for people they care about, to the food distribution done by the Siya Kolisi Foundation and many other groups/companies/organisations to a Guerilla Garden organised by Val [aka tbV] on the piece of public land just behind our back wall which is starting to grow food for anyone who wants/needs it.
Don’t be a Flat Earther!
i think for me, the bottom line of my New Year’s Eve reflections is this: There are some people who believe the earth is round [cos science] and other people who believe it is flat [cos aluminium in the ceiling paint, probably!]. There are people who are incredible on social media and use it to connect and inspire and encourage and create and rally and grow, and there are people who are disgusting and evil and hurtful and bullying and worse. There are people who have lots of money and use it really well and there are people who have little money and use it really badly – and vice versa.
Every day when we wake up we have a decision to make about the kind of person we are going to be… someone who adds to the world for the benefit of all or someone who takes from the world for the benefit of themselves. And as things are never as for-want-of-a-better-term black or white as we would like or believe them to be, on most days we are probably a little bit of both. i know i am.
But i strive towards being a person who loves more than he hates, who gives more than he takes, who shares more than he holds tight and protects, who builds bridges and extends tables more than he draws lines in the sand and makes people feel unwelcome, who grows more than he kills, and who smiles and laughs and radiates joy more than he sucks the life out of people.
My daily prayer is this: May i do and be better than i did and was yesterday. It may not be a grammatically correct prayer, but it’s one that hopefully keeps me moving forwards well and on good days invites others to join and seek the same.
So as we head into 2021, know that it will only be a better year if we are better in it. Did the pandemic make 2020 such a bad year or did the fact that it brought to the fore so much racism and selfishness and nastiness just expose so much of the mess that was already there.
As people and as churches and organisations and businesses and communities are we going to take this opportunity of a ticking clock to encourage us to do and be better? i hope so.
i want to be better in 2021 than i was in 2020. i want to be kinder to people i disagree with. i want to be less fighty with my wife about who is right when we have different opinions on a thing. i want to be more successful in helping people to see where there is race or gender or other justice work to be done and create helpful resources that will help them get there a little more easily. i want to be less tolerant of racists and sexists and the like. i want to be quicker to owning my crap when i get it wrong and saying and being sorry. i want to listen to more stories of people who are different to me and in doing that hopefully learn a whole lot more about them. i want to read more. i want to eat less crap. Become more disciplined at things that add life. Be more focused on some of the things i really want to do like the Codcast [i know!] and poetry and writing.
What is your vibe as you head for 2021? Are you just going to hope that it is somehow a better year than you have just faced? Or do you have some plans in place to help you see it become that?