I Had a Great Year – You May Have, Also – and 2016 Was Still Terrible

I posted on Facebook about the Standing Rock action by the Corps of Engineers and, as I did here, noted it as a sliver of good news in an otherwise shit year.

Someone commented:

“I know you are talking about the election when you say “shit year” – or at least I hope you are saying that just for dramatic affect. Because from my perspective- It isn’t a shit year- So… I get where you are coming from- but for me- in the entire grand scheme of things- any day that I have healthy kids, any day or year that my parents are still alive and any year that Bryan and I are healthy, alive and working at jobs we like- well- I call that a pretty damn good year!!

Here’s the thing: if you’re saying “based on my healthy kids, my still-living parents, and the health of my spouse and myself, it was a great year,” then by definition it is not “in the entire grand scheme of things.”

The Grand Scheme of things includes MORE than just you and your family.

2016, even without the election, is like the montage at the start of an apocalypse movie, explaining how things got as bad as they are when the movie opens. To pick only ONE topic, the backwards steps combating climate change and the accelerating heating trends at the poles, far ahead of predictions, mean we have a lifetime of work to give our GRANDkids even a moderate chance to turn things around.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lots of good days, and by any measure, every day has good things in it, even if it’s bad on-balance.

But when I say it’s a bad year, I mean more than just how the year itself turned out, from January 1 to December 31. I mean the impact the events in that year will have on our lives going forward. I look at lasting harm, and what I then need to do.

In other words, when I talk about the year, I’m not just talking about how things went inside my house, and with my immediate family. If I did that, then yeah, 2016 was a banner year. Of course it was. I’m a straight white dude and my family is financially well off. I’m great.

But that point of view is dangerously myopic, and makes it too easy to think everything is going to be fine.

When I have a good day with my daughters, I fight harder to have women’s rights and health defended.

When I have a good weekend with my son, I fight harder for fair and well-funded education systems, with counseling backed by science, led by people earning a good wage, who can help kids when they struggle to succeed (or even make it through a day).

If I have a great Thanksgiving with my family, it means I’m going to fight harder to ensure all of my family have the same rights, and the same protections, everywhere in the country.

Good things don’t make me say “Y’know, over all, I have my health, and things aren’t that bad, and hey WE are having a great year, so why worry about what’s going on over there?”

Good things strengthen my resolve.

One of the best parts of my weekend was when I saw the breaking news on Standing Rock while I was with Sean. Not because of the news itself (which was great), but because it gave me the chance to explain how someone can be happy and crying at the same time, even if they’re guys. Especially if.

I’m not an optimist. That’s established.

I plan for the worst, and most of the time, when it’s not THAT bad, I enjoy myself all the more because I’ve seriously considered how it might have turned out badly.

And when it is just as bad as I thought, I’m prepared.

This year, I’ve been adequately prepared far more than pleasantly surprised.

I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

2 Replies to “I Had a Great Year – You May Have, Also – and 2016 Was Still Terrible”

  1. Yeah, this year was pretty good for me, personally, other than a few of my favourite artists dying… but it would be utterly ridiculous and — as you say — myopic to claim it wasn't a terrible year.

Comments are closed.