Mirror Mirror - 2017


May the Road Rise with You, and May the New Year Rise with It

By Jennifer Allen

I could be wrong, I could be right,
I could be black, I could be white,
I could be right, I could be wrong,
I could be white, I could be black

They put a hotwire to my head
'cuz of the things I did and said
They made these feelings go away,
but those feelings get in every way

Your time has come, your second skin
You climb so high and gain so low

May the road rise with you…

~ Lyrics from “Rise" by Public Image Ltd

Picture a man with wild red hair in a gray suit standing amongst long white bed sheets as they are being paddled dry by wash women in contrasting black work clothes. The man stares almost manically into the camera amidst these sheets and the occasional leaves blowing past his face. He sings about that he may be black or white, right or wrong, and ultimately he says that “Anger is an energy." This imagery is from the 80's song Rise written by John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) with a pretty powerful message.

Initially Rise was both a reaction to apartheid in South Africa and the animosity between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. However, Lydon's own comments about the meaning are much more universal than that:

“…there's no political cause worthy enough that people should die for it. Once you start murdering your fellow human beings, it's over."

Quite a potent statement when you correlate it with everything that has happened in the past 12 months.

2016 has come and gone with some folks already saying that it is the worst year in recorded history. Certainly it was a year of drastic social and economic change, but we've seen that plenty of times before. From the Black Plague epidemic to the massive colonization/conquering of the world by Europeans to the plethora of wars and other confrontations across human history… I'd say we've had plenty of “worst years" depending on your perspective.

Regardless, there was a great deal of events which, if you count them all up, would certainly classify the year of 2016 as world-changing.

2016 was a year of great political, economic and religious transition. Iran finally dismantled its nuclear weapons program. The Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Protestant Churches all found a way to finally put aside differences that had been around for almost 1000 years. Three different country leaders were finally convicted of the various crimes they committed. The United Kingdom made the decision to leave the European Union (though it may also finally give Scotland the chance to exit the UK) and caused a major frenzy amongst world economic markets. India's demonetization of larger Rupee bills has turned the country upside down with panic. Donald Trump's presidential win has the US (and the world) still looking on with confusion and uncertainty of what he ultimately plans to do in the next four years.

We also lost a lot of influential people this year. People who we grew up hearing about and looked up to. People who helped shape their perspective cultures and mold our world views like fingers digging into wet clay. David Bowie, Muhammed Ali, Elie Weasel, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Adbul Sattar Edhi, Prince, Mahasweta Devi, Fidel Castro, and John Glenn are just a few of so many who did extraordinary things (whether good or bad) during their lives and now are no longer with us. For certain, the world does feel emptier without them here, but you also can't deny that they all left an unmistakable mark on our lives.

Most importantly, 2016 saw the deaths of so many more people who were victims of various violent acts. Whether the act took place in Brussels, Cairo, Lahore, Paris, Istanbul, Orlando or some small town… each one took the lives of so many who could have potentially become one of those future influential people like those listed above. Whether orchestrated by an organization or a single individual, the outcome is still just as awful. Add on the more recent attacks in the US between some of the black population and police officers, and everything seems to have hit a point of total ruin.

As we start 2017, what is truly in store for us?

Ultimately more people (famous or not) will pass on. A new name or series of names will hit the news each day, and we will grieve for each one in our own way. No matter what faith you may follow or beliefs about a possible afterlife, we all must accept that death will catch up to us eventually. The true tragedy is those who will become new victims due to future attacks, and there is only so much we can do to prevent these from happening.

As the old saying goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." Will we learn from what 366 days of 2016 merged into human history? Perhaps… perhaps not.

Sometimes all it takes to make a difference is for one little drop to send ripples through the ocean.

Perhaps that little drop is a man who wears a cowboy hat, jeans, button-up shirt and long beard that many associate with a stereotypical Texas resident. But what Justin Normand did is anything but typical as he stood in front of a Mosque in a suburb of Dallas with a sign that read:

You Belong
Stay Strong
Be Blessed
We are One America

His reasoning is that we are all here to help our fellow man, and if you are not helping your fellow man then you need to evaluate that.

Seeing these words together with Lydon's explanation of Rise, it all comes full circle. We know that humanity has the potential to become something better… but will it? The only way to find out is to watch and experience what the next 12 months have to offer us.