I love the quiet space between the last of Advent and the end of Christmas. Time almost doesn't count, I am able to go slow and to reflect on the year that was and the year to be. There are some who have the amazing ability to start a resolution at any point in the year, but that definitely is not me. I'm one who needs rituals and deadlines and romanticism else I let time slip by without action; I'm one who needs to be haunted like Ebenezer, I need the ghosts of Christmas to reset my course for the upcoming year.
Reflecting on 2018, I am struck by my inability to properly cope with duality. Other than Aiofe (my most amazing feline companion) dying, I had an amazing year in my personal life: I love my day job; my community is uplifting and beautiful; I was able to foster and grow new friendships and tend my rooted/flourishing old ones; I had my first paid photography gigs with amazing women; I had my first photo published in a magazine; I was able to build my capsule/uniform wardrobe; my love and I chose each other everyday and fell more in love. By all accounts it was a wonderful year. However, the juxtaposition between my personal world and the world at large could not allow me to fully soak in all that goodness. I was so constantly hyperaware of the suffering of so many here at the hands of the United States government, that all that goodness could do was keep me afloat as I navigated the choppy seas of emotions my empathic heart could not quell.
Despite all the charm and beauty in my everyday life, I spent many sleepless nights thinking about the internment caps at the borders; about the families the U.S. government ripped apart; about the immigrant children kidnapped under the guise of adoption; about all the black children and men that police officers have shot and killed; about black women brutalized over trivial incidents; about white women weaponizing their victimhood against black folk and upholding white supremacy; about how our government and society do not listen to true victims of sexual assault or systemic racism; about indigenous peoples still reeling and suffering from the effects of colonization; about Flint still in a water crisis; about gun violence and the loss of innocent student, Jewish, and black lives; about trans people not only facing erasure in how policy is written but also facing physical violence at the hands of ignorant pricks; about how the world is being suffocated by plastic and unsustainable processes in both the food and fashion industries; about how capitalism and consumerism is the source of so much bad and so little good and yet it seems impossible to change that system. I'm sure this is not a complete list. The sleeplessness hit so often. I was shouldering this burden of guilt from having such a lovely life and yet feeling like I had no power to help ease any of that suffering. I likened that feeling to survivors' guilt and thus named that feeling my "privilege guilt".
Because my proverbial ghost of Christmas past revealed to me the level of privilege guilt under which I was suffocating, I have one resolution for 2019: to recognize my privilege and to utilize it to the best of my ability to help others. I believe that in knowing where societal standards and biases uphold you and your using that privilege as a means to uplift and protect others is the only way to stay truly grateful and humble. I will be delving deeper and will be more transparent about those privileges I hold and how I, and those who share the same ones, can better serve others using those privileges in combination with our talents and abilities. With that goal in mind, it is my New Year & Birthday wish that you will work towards doing the same. Let's make our ghosts of Christmas future bring us somewhere merry & bright not only for us, but for all the good hearted peoples having a rough go in present day U.S.A.