"In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them." Brian Andreas
I don't know what it is exactly, perhaps it is just my starry-eyed optimism that has somehow managed to stay undimmed even through the political tumult of 2011. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that our December 2011 sales were well above December 2010 sales (and not just because of buttons). It also has something to do with the amazing creative renaissance that I witnessed in 2011 - in the face of frustrating politics and shaky economics, I was concerned that people would no longer have time for creating, would be preoccupied by trying to cover their rising cost of living, would be distracted from following their passion by having to follow the strictures of their workplace. And instead I was blown away by the ways people found to voice their anger, their hope, their humor, their very selves. In song, in metalworking, in signs, in video, in printmaking. The list goes on. Of all that has come about from politics in Wisconsin, this creative renaissance is truly inspiring to me. I am filled with so much gratitude for the people who supported our shop, for the moments of laughter around the button table, for the spirit and resilience that I witness everyday.
I have a strong & good feeling about 2012.
I realize there is a lot of work ahead of us and maybe all of my wishes won't come true but I am also very mindful of everything that was wakened in 2011 - there is a sense of anger and frustration (with politics, mostly), that's true, but there is also a sense of energy and vigor, of committment and community. If everything that has led us to this point brings more of us out to vote, makes us think more about where we shop and how we eat, helps us think more about the hands that actually made whatever it is we are buying/selling/giving, gives us a stronger sense of our Christian or moral or American duty, well, then I think my optimism is not misplaced. I don't things will be easy or easily resolved, I think we will always be fighting against those who would deny us power or wealth or influence, but I think we are strong, and have the ability and generosity to support everyone else on this journey and affirm the value of All.
I know, there are great forces that have been at work for decades now and some part of me feels that I am witnessing the American version of the fall of the Roman empire. There's little doubt in my mind that lots of people will be worse off for more years to come, that some people will never willingly let go of the money and power they have, even if it is at cost to the health of our entire nation. There are great forces at work against the American Dream, but that doesn't mean we have to cede our dreams or our voices.
Change is coming - it is here, in the slow food movement, in the buy local movement, in the ways that the internet connects us and informs us, in the diversity of our population, in the challenges of the environment and the demands of the world. I sometimes feel like some people's political and economic motivations are based on a way of life that is more fitting for the 1950s, but that time is gone, the world is changing. They will fight it, and desperately, but I don't think the change can be undone.
"There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history we are to take nothing personally least of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves; banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred way and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for." Hopi Elder's Prophecy
I would also note, though I've forgotten what Madison businessperson said this, that I am taking to heart the notion of defending Madison like a city-state. I feel so blessed to live here, I love my city, and my state, and I am resolved in my committment to uphold the qualities that I love so much.
So, 2012, bring it on! We have spirit, we have resourcefulness, we have creativity, we have wealth. May we use it in the pursuit of Liberty and Justice for All, and a Happy New Year.
"...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind." --Neil Gaiman