“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” – Ben Franklin
This article was originally published for The Odyssey on January 10, 2017.
Since the new year has graced us, I have become increasingly more annoyed with the saying ‘New year, New me.’ If you’re going to change yourself, don’t wait for the new year to start. If you’re going to treat yourself, don’t wait for a new year. Start now. Regardless, 2017 isn’t about you. 2017 is about all of us, coming together. Here are 17 hopes and ideas I would like to see throughout 2017.
1. New steps toward equality
2. Less extinction
Let’s do our best to save the cheetahs, gorillas, pangolins, elephants, and tigers. These are all animals that are critically endangered. Stop hunting these animals and selling their parts. Wildlife is crucial, it’s time we start to protect it. For more steps to help prevent extinction, visit Endangered Species Coalition.
3. Less fear
Back to embracing your neighbor. Religion, race, gender and sexuality should not divide us and tear us apart. Educate your friends; don’t attack them. Together we can fight homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia and racism.
4. Bigger spotlight on mental illness
If Carrie Fisher’s death has taught us anything, it’s that we need to continue talking about mental illness. We need to slash the stigma surrounding mental illness and overcoming challenges surrounding mental illness. Depression and anxiety are real. Mental illness does not make you weak, or any lesser of a person. Let’s talk about mental illness. Stand out. Speak out. Reach out.
5. Distinguish the difference between privilege and right
The public servants of this world, janitors, cashiers, and other workers who help you are people too. We must stop treating employees like they are lower than us in society. Alternatively, if you are fortunate enough to have someone who pays your expenses for you, that is a privilege, not a right. Know that not everyone has that privilege. There is no need to boast about your privilege. Be content, know that you have it and never stop giving. This applies to other aspects of privilege as well.
6. More body positivity
Enough with the ‘one size fits all’. I’ve seen Halloween costumes that don’t even work that way. Even the food costumes. All bodies are beautiful. Fight against the internalized hate you have been taught to root deep within your conscience. No one has to ‘eat a burger’ or ‘run some laps.’ Let people love themselves. All bodies are beautiful
7. Letting women make their own decisions
For the love of God, let’s stop the war on women’s bodies. I am so tired of men making laws and rules about what a woman can and cannot do with her body. I am tired of the debate surrounding the ‘luxury’ tax on tampons and pads. If menstruating is a luxury, I better be getting paid vacation for those five plus days. In fact, let’s increase the trial of men experiencing the simulation of period pain and labor pain in order to raise awareness. Let’s remember that women brought us all into this world. They deserve just as much respect as everyone else.
8. Better education
Where do I start? Better sex, driver’s, special,and literary education. Also, better education to women and men across the world. Inform, don’t attack. Stop sheltering people, and allow them to experience the world both as they see it and how they don’t see it. Allow people to see the bad and the good. Don’t let history repeat itself.
9. Increase funding for police body cameras
You don’t have to pick a side between blue and black. An increase in funding for body cameras will help everyone, and hold people accountable for what they do. I think it’s time we all start facing the consequences of the evil in this world.
10. More important media coverage
No offense to the Kardashians, but I want to see more of Aleppo than I want to see of whichever K’s new boyfriend. I understand the media is unreliable. Maybe there’s no changing that. Regardless, I’d like to see more current events and less current celebrities.
11. Talk more about gun control
I’m not saying I have a solution ready to go. What I am saying is that more citizens own guns in the United States than any other country in the entire world. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016 was the worst mass shooting in US history. There is an evident problem with people gaining access to guns and using them for evil. I’m not saying we should fight with one another, I just want the conversation to continue.
12. Celebrity life prolongation
Whether or not David Bowie is creating an awesome alternate universe on the other side, we need to stop losing so many icons. George Michael and Carrie Fisher, both trailblazers for sexuality and mental health, died within days of one another. We lost Bowie and Prince in 2016. If 2017 touches the remaining Beatles or Cher, we’ve got an issue.
13. Stop giving young children iPhones
You can say what you want about millennials. but we weren’t given iPhones as children, and most of us didn’t grow up spoiled like most kids who were. Young children should go outside and play! They shouldn’t go to the library just to play on the computers. When they’re having a tantrum or crying, your first thought shouldn’t be to hand them a device to distract them. Pay attention to your children and discipline them. Stop letting technology take over your child’s mind.
14. More open-mindedness
We need everyone to be more open-minded, and that includes our parents and grandparents, too. We are all humans; what we believe in or how we worship should not be associated with violence. We need to stop assuming. Innocent until proven guilty. Don’t let hate blind you.
15. Erase rape culture
Stop telling victims it is their fault. Stop telling victims to close their legs. Stop telling victims that their assault wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t drinking, but allowing perpetrators to slide by because they were drinking. Erase the double standard, erase rape culture. Attorneys, judges and prosecutors should realize the pressure put on a victim when they decide to press charges. There will be riots if another Brock Turner slips through the system.
16. Raise awareness for climate change
Regardless if we actually live in someone’s snow globe, the temperature is radically different every day almost. It’s winter and it could be 60 degrees tomorrow. Something is wrong with the climate in this world, and we need to talk about it. Open your eyes.
17. Spread love, not hate
Finally, let’s just start being decent people. Smile at people. Donate to people. Make sure your neighbor always has enough to eat. Spread positivity. Together we can make the world shine brighter. Let’s make 2017 brighter if nothing else.