Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Talky Tuesday: Word of the Year for 2017: Courage

The new year is always a popular time for people to decide to reinvent themselves, usually via resolutions they (statistically speaking) end up not keeping. I've never been one for resolutions, generally, but last year I decided to have a one-word mantra and guide post: focus. I've already reflected on how that ended up working out for me (pretty well, actually); now it's time to introduce my one-word guide post for 2017:

Image courtesy Samuel Scrimshaw

There is shit going on in the world that I can no longer ignore. Or, more accurately, that I can no longer only post about on Facebook and Twitter. As John Stuart Mill put it,
Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.
Emphasis there on "do nothing."

Nothing exemplified this idea like the dumpster fire that was 2016. It's easy to think that it's "enough" for you to not be racist, to not be sexist, to repost and retweet those snarky A+ quotes (that, thanks to the way we socialize and organize online, will never be seen by the people we imagine seeing them), maybe even to show up and vote every couple years and leave it at that.

Not so.

Voting is important (why do you think voter suppression is a real thing?), and not being a shitty person is definitely important, but it's not enough. Not anymore. Some former Congressional staffers have put together an awesome, no-nonsense guide to the next four years. Check it out.

So this is the year I will be a huge dork and call my representatives on the national and state level. I hate the phone and I hate talking to strangers, but my phone anxiety can go suck eggs. If it's the one thing I can do to be an activist while abroad, then I'll do it.

Things are going down in a bad way here in Sweden, as well. And while I'm due to get my citizenship (and voting rights!) soon, the same is true: it isn't enough to vote. Sure, the moral arc of history may bend towards justice, but it only does so thanks to activism and actions.

On a personal level, there are lots of career and vocational things that I should do that I realize I'm too afraid to do. I'm afraid to take risks and fail. I'm afraid to spend money on classes and certifications because what if I never use them? I'm afraid of being rejected. (The same can be said for social activities as well, I realize.) But if I want to be happy and self-sufficient, I need to learn to feel the fear and do it anyway. Have courage.

I also want to focus on the good in the world, too. I want to surround myself with stories about courageous people standing up for themselves and what's right. Inspiration is important!

Admittedly, I was torn on whether or not I wanted a new word for 2017, or if I still wanted to stick with focus. I don't think I've entirely mastered the lessons of focus yet, to be honest. But we'll see. Courage suddenly feels much more urgent.

Are you going to have a guiding word this year? If so, what it is it?

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