racheljoi.com

2016 roundup

2016 has been a mostly good year in my life, but it’s been a difficult one in our nation and our world. Memes abound anthropomorphizing 2016, and it seems like most people will be glad to see the year end. Whether 2017 will be any better, whether the world will even make it to 2018 is uncertain, but people hold out hope that next year has to be better than this one.

In my personal life, I got my first non-law-related, work-for-someone-else job doing software testing. I think I’ve learned a lot, and I’m enjoying the work and the collegiality. I started doing volunteer work with a high school robotics team and a refugee resettlement organization. I became more involved at church, to the point of taking a leadership role in our early Sunday service. I got a diagnosis for my mental health issues that finally fits. I’m finding time to do things that I enjoy. It’s been a little rough trying to find “our people” here, and the search for friends makes me feel like I’m 5… or 11… ugh. So the year was mostly good. We saw friends and family, explored Utah, and spent lots of time just being us. But personal life aside…

2016 has been rough for our global society. Aside from all the cultural icons, musicians, and celebrities who have died, the year brought division and destruction, emboldening xenophobia and diminishing hope. I look at the trail we left behind in 2016, splattered with Syrian blood, refugee tears, and political mudslinging, and I fear for the future. I fear that the hatred we spewed in 2016 is only the beginning, that the trail we carve through 2017 will be just as bloody, wet, and muddy as the one we left behind us. I wish I had a way to make this better, that I had words of hope to speak, that I knew how things would turn out, but I’m still feeling hopeless and gutted.

I do admire the people who have stepped up to create plans of action for resisting Trump. One example is the Indivisible Guide. It takes the aspects of the Tea Party that were very effective, action at the local level, and discusses how to execute them in opposition to Trump’s agenda. I have to believe that we can halt or at least stall the worst of his plans.

The problems we’re facing as a world – the refugee crisis and the rise of xenophobia – seem too big and complicated to manage. I have a heart for refugees but understand the need to keep communities safe. The Australian attitude towards refugees is cruel, even malicious, but I fear Europe is headed in that direction. As for the situation in the States, we need to stop shouting into echo chambers and make sure our voices are heard by our members of Congress. We need to volunteer with and donate to organizations that resettle refugees and that advocate for their inclusion and their rights. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Catholic Charities are great organizations that I’ve worked with before.

Some good came out of the year, but it seems to be mostly overshadowed by the bad. Here’s hoping 2017 brings mostly good things.

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