When the dust settled after November 9, 2016, many were looking for a better 2017. Alas, 2017 was one of the roughest, heaviest, and revelatory years in the last twenty years. 2017 shook many to their cores. Every morning seemed to bring new horrors, new mountains to climb, and more piles of ridiculousness to shift through. And it didn’t seem to relent. Every moment, every hour was met with baited breath. Is this the moment that our world falls apart? Is this the moment we wake up from this nightmare?
Throughout 2017, I kept thinking – “surely this is all we can handle. This will be the moment we as a nation collectively stand together and say ‘Enough, No More.’” From the Republican party trying to pass their absurd ‘lack’ of healthcare, it’s equally ridiculous and devastating tax reform plan, to everything that seemed to be released out of the White House. Politics wasn’t the only thing that spiraled out of control. Mother Nature decided enough was enough and started to show what happens when her human children disrespect and mistreat her lands and waters. Epic hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires have devastated our world. Regions are facing heightened temperatures and weather that are breaking records and changing the climate. Southern California has experienced an unprecedented heat wave and high winds for the last three weeks. This has also been a huge factor in the raging fires that are still blazing through southern California.
Gun violence, white supremacists, and sexual predators became a common tagline in the news. We saw groups rising out of the shadows due to the lack of backbone, integrity, and human decency in our 45th President. Not just in physically marching but also in the ‘accepted’ public rhetoric being used. We equally saw common people standing firm in the conviction that this behavior, those beliefs, those words which create a devastating trajectory, should not and will not survive. 2017 has been a year of vigilance, of being the Dutch boy at the dam. Of being the first line of defense to the onslaught of hordes.
So, with the ending of a most terrible year, I have hope that 2018 can be the watershed, the year where every moment won’t be met with dread but with hope, with purpose, and with a promising future. My ardent hope and prayer is that 2018 will be a balm to the gaping wounds, heavy hearts, and weary souls. That 2017 was the epic fever crisis to which we can start to recover from.
It can be so difficult and tiresome when faced with a towering mountain or cataclysmic gaping hole but as Martin Luther King Jr so brilliantly and profoundly put it, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 2016 seemed to stunt many, and I truly mean seemed because there were many people who rallied after the elections and have continued to press onward. 2017 brought the tearing down many of the inroads and progressions that have been brewing and established from President Obama and many others. And while it seems we are at a point of no return in many things due to the current leadership and its asinine new policies, I have also seen kernels of hope brewing.
Now more than ever, on the wings of victory from the Black voters of Alabama -we, as a nation must rally, and yes, rage. We must collectively come together. This is key. We must look to our history and see that when a leader starts to demand censorship on media, on language used by government agencies, by creating policies that favor the rich and the corporate masses, and when it decides that they have the power to change another country’s capital – this path can only lead to destruction, pain, and death. We must recognize that this echoes the early stages that happened under the reigns of Hitler, Mao, and Stalin. We are America – the land of the Free, where Freedom of Speech and Religion are protected not regulated. President Ronald Reagan stated, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.” So, Republicans, your dearest and most beloved president is most likely spinning in his grave over what the 45th President has been doing in his first year in office. Remember, recall, reclaim and accept this fact.
We are the land that was established to be a haven for those that were lost, broken, and seeking more. By the powers of the Constitution – we are a nation – of the people, by the people, for the people – and as President Abraham Lincoln said, “it shall not perish from this earth.” It is up to everyone to ensure that this is so.
May 2018 be filled with a bountiful abundance of hope, courage, and moments of peace and progress. Where all peoples of all colors, sexual orientations, origins, and religious affiliations are accepted and supported. The fight will continue through the coming new year, but we must remember that a single drop of water can change the entire ocean. And as Senator Bernie Sanders stated, “Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues.” That this struggle is our collective duty. We, as Gandhi stated, must be the change we seek. We must continue to call out power abuses, sexual inequalities, and so much more. May 2018 be the year we create a new world, a bright future, and a present that all can stand up in.
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is a Ph.D Candidate in Women Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. She is currently holds the position of Lecturer of Asian Religions at Whittier College and the Wabash Fellow for Claremont McKenna College’s Religious Studies Department. Anjeanette also writes the for activist blog, Engaged Gaze. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.