Americans have had one solid year of angst and disbelief.
Prince, David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, George Michael all checked out with very little warning or preparation for those of us committed to lives of mastery and courage.
For me, 2016 was all about trying to figure out and navigate new systems with no understanding of these systems and why they are needed.
After looking at the joke that is politics and pop culture over the last twelve months, it is clear to me that we have lost our way because we are existing in a world without boundaries.
Brene' Brown states it best with this succinct definition of boundaries- this is what's okay; this is what's not okay.
We have spent the last year allowing confusion to remain instead of setting boundaries.
Bullying , scapegoating and the level of racism and misogyny that our most recent presidential race highlighted was shocking and beyond disturbing.
When those seeking power are seeking more power, it sends a message to all of us that we don't need boundaries not when it interferes with getting what we want.
I stopped being shocked at people's behavior the minute creating a sex tape was the requirement for breaking into the entertainment industry.
I also stopped being shocked when Americans sucked up all the lies regarding what President Obama was doing or not doing.
I, like all Americans, have only two choices: stay shocked (in shock)- or strap on the head gear and get in the game, i.e. create some change by personally being a change maker.
2017 must be the year of boundaries and clear thinking.
When the subject of boundaries comes up, most of wince and deliberately try to change the subject.
Boundaries are uncomfortable for most of us because it means saying no to someone we care about (friends and relatives) or in many instances(someone who may have "perceived" power over us-supervisors and large government agencies and big businesses).
Boundaries are also sorely needed in a world with too many choices about every aspect of our lives.
Whenever there have been hurt feelings and or misunderstandings that I've allowed to easily settle into resentments, there was a boundary I didn't set or allowed it (the boundary) to be negotiated away(a semi firm one built on shaky ground) or hoped that the person causing the drama would appreciate my "niceness" and set one for the both of us.
I always ended up screwed and resentful.
When the "Donald" began his bid for the White House, I dismissed it. I foolishly believed it was a publicity stunt that had gotten out of hand and America would see it as the tomfoolery it truly was.
I believed we could all get back to the seriousness of our daily lives and co-create next steps for moving our country in a sane, positive direction.
I was wrong.
Once again, I and the rest of the country failed to maintain a boundary.
Greetings fellow Americans,
Three weeks ago we all received a shocking and historical blow. While the election is over, many fellow citizens are bemoaning the fact that this actually happened and "the Donald" pulled this off. It is time we stopped being shocked and instead start moving towards some action.
Here are my ten ways to survive in our new world order.
1. Stop bitching-Start a Revolution. I saw this on a bumper sticker some years ago and never forgot it. Probably because it's true. The time for belly aching is over. What we need are powerful people to build powerful coalitions and fight like hell to make sure we don't regress as humans. We also need powerful people who can actually listen to and be with people and their pain.
2. Make sure that all of your finances are in order. Moving beyond just paying bills and living paycheck to paycheck, it is important that we invest, understand what money can and can't do and plan for our future. So many of us are waiting for the government to save us/ bail us out and yet we turn a blind eye to their stellar record of handling money. No folks, we have to make sure all life insurance policies, wills, trusts and power of attorney paperwork is filed.
3. Pull your loved ones in closer and begin to work towards creating new and stronger alliances with people who are vastly different than you. For example, watch the great film , Lorenzo's Oil. In it the white female middle class mom unties with poor people of color in an effort to create and sustain change. When the world gets crazy, it is imperative that we get more sane.
4. Start obsessively reading and watching the fine print. Whether a written piece or a ridiculous talking head, task yourself to question, scrutinize and challenge. In the past 18 months, I've seen more tom foolery and hijinks than ever. Television interviews and news sources just love a good comeuppance and my god have we had our share of it this last year. Fine print in the written word is somewhat easier to spot. Incidentally, feel free to use this time to bone up on your vocabulary because mark my word, we are getting ready to see a whole lot of name changing, i.e. high falutin' code switching designed to confuse and immobilize many of our citizens.
5. Get all travel documents in order. For those of us who have done international traveling, make sure those passports are current. As a black gay man, I know that understanding and acceptance can be eliminated in a blink of an eye with awful repercussions. While it is wonderful and brave to stay and fight, let's not be the idiot refusing to cover all bases as opposed to hoping that good people will stand up when it counts and that humans eventually do the right thing.
6. Do you speak one language? Two? Three? As Americans, myself included, we are notoriously arrogant in our refusal to learn about other cultures and languages. With this new world order, it is wise to start learning Spanish, a language spoken by more than a third of the world's population. As comrades in struggle, we must join forces with a community that has largely been dismissed and overlooked. By joining with our Latino brothers and sisters we have the opportunity to harness the same power that made a Trump victory possible. We organize around people whose voices have been systematically squelched. Scared, voiceless people in serious pain can be a scary and misguided group. Scared, voiceless people who are self directed with a united voice can move mountains.
7. Figure out what the hell the Electoral College is so that we can either improve or eliminate it. I have no idea what it is, how it works or why in the entire hell it only seems to elect Republicans. It requires further examination and a firm commitment to making sure things work for everyone (all Americans).
8. Pray. Pray for courage and wisdom. The wisdom to know what to do and the courage to actually do it. It is easy to hand wring and fret. Be bold and take the right action.
9. Get a sense of humor and know that every loudmouth idiot has his day. Keep in mind that anybody over 40 has seen these type of shenanigans before. There are those of us who've lived through not one but two Bush Administrations and of course the one who promised to save us (Clinton Administration); he served us with Don't Ask Don't Tell and a failed war on crime/drugs with the lovely and highly effective "Three Strikes Rule". Humor helps with all this crazy shit. I live in the great state of California and when I arrived in 2008, the governator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was our governor. Personally, I've always felt many folks liked him being in office because they could mispronounce his name Schwarzenigger and get away with it. Californians had no problem allowing a man with no previous knowledge or political experience to run our state. An out of work actor decides to throw his hat in the political ring and no one objects. I can't be held responsible. It happened before I arrived. The big question remains- what the frig are we gonna do now? Do you resist with angst riddled protests and demands for justice that quickly burn us out? Or do we say this shit is f#$@ and let's find something comedic that joins us as a nation and provides a way out of this mess?
10. Strive for personal and professional excellence. In a world of mediocrity and feeble minded individuals, it is time to buck up and smarten up. We're going to need everyone of us in this battle and no excuses.
When I was ten, Tanya Nelson repeatedly tortured me by jabbing me with a compass. She sat behind me and constantly tormented me along with others for being a sissy. I took the abuse. I learned to tolerate it and even enjoyed figuring out ways to endure the humiliation.