s we look out our windows at the energized serenity of fresh snow, hope for both personal and societal peace and progress grows anew. Like so many of you, I spend a lot of time and energy working for positive change small and large, short- and long-term, internal and external. Sometimes it feels like slush.
I still think that there are deep patterns and drives to human life, from individual personality development to social evolution. I believe even more than ever that the larger context shapes whatever lies within it, that wealth and power have and will always do whatever it must to retain its status, that many people do many horrible things, and that creating a good life, both at home and in the world, requires individual and collective action.
However, I no longer believe, as I once did, that history is inherently on our side — that the universe, as Martin Luther King prophesied, “bends towards justice.” Bad things happen. I’ve come to appreciate the importance of individual difference, the unpredictability of events, and the great unlikelihood that things turn out the way we want. The future, of those we love and the world we live in, is always up for grabs and there is no inevitability that a lot of that future won’t be, like so much of the past, painful and destructive.
The contingency of politics and life-affirming change both adds to our individual responsibility and eases the potential guilt. And it reminds us that the scope of our lives is more inclusive than our public role.
So, as you do what do you, enjoy life. Eat well, and in good company. Support yourself, but hold hands with others. Give and accept hugs, and love. Take care of yourself and someone else. Remember that happiness and sadness, pleasure and pain, and all the other opposing pairs are actually composed of separate realities – the fact that you are now sad does not cancel out previous happiness: this, too, shall pass. Walk, bike, and play more. As you head for the horizon make sure to pay attention to what’s directly underfoot.
I have learned that while we can’t save the world, we can be friends.
I hope for a healthy, happy, and satisfying year to all of you, to us all. Be well!