I’m not convinced it was the worst year in collective history – 2016. Some of my contenders for worst year of the millennium are in no danger of being pushed off the chart by the past 12 months.
Yes, for many it was pretty awful, at an individual or corporate level, or on all fronts. Tough times across the world – wars entrenched, poverty deepened, humanity faded.
But those 366 days also included moments of great joy, birth, growth, rescue, achievement, healing, rapprochement, success.
And I was glad to see a late rally before midnight on Saturday from individuals who hadn’t bought into the “crappiest year ever” group thinking. They felt good about how things had turned out for them personally, or could see some merit for society even of despicable acts by autocrats, or wrong turns by some, even democratic majorities.
It turns out that my word for the biggest moment in my year was also voted by Merriam-Webster dictionary as their best word for 2016.
Surreal. It’s defined by the dictionary as “the intense irrational reality of a dream” and they say was most descriptive for those trying to understand the outcome of the US presidential election in November. The dictionary comments: ‘When we don’t believe or don’t want to believe what is real, we need a word for what seems “above” or “beyond” reality. Surreal is such a word.’
I wrote about “surrealism” at the time of my heart transplant in October in a previous post.
But, despite how we might respond to what we think are “surreal” experiences, we live in a real world, where real things happen.
So, what does it really mean for each of us to be in 2017? Perhaps the first step into this new year should be a commitment to going back and fixing the mistakes, correcting the wrong turns, even undoing the despicable acts we committed in 2016, in whatever way we can.
It may mean simply expressing the empathy we missed sharing with those who faced one travail or another. That applies individually and corporately. And for some of us it might mean going back even further than last year.
And then, 2017 must mean committing to doing things better, not for ourselves, although we may truly benefit also, but for those who are part of this world with us, and the ones to come.