By this time, many people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. According to US News and World Reports, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the time February rolls around. In fact, January 17th has been dubbed “Broken Resolutions Day” or “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day” for it is seen as the day more than half of the resolutions have been broken or abandoned entirely. Oddly enough, I find this to be a great time to think about hopes and goals for the new-ish year. Resolutions are difficult, in part, because they are caught up in this magical sense of holiday spirit that make people believe that they can bring change into their lives by simply speaking it to being. But now that reality has set in, we can take a breath, get real, and make some actual plans. Psychologists suggest that New Year’s resolutions may not succeed because they are too vague. They lack clear-cut plans and set goals. With all this in mind, I present to you a pair of social justice related hopes I have for 2020, and for each hope, one small concrete goal that will help me enact that hope. Unlike the feverish positivity of “New Year, New You,” I realize that these hopes may be dashed. I am not in total control of the outcomes, but I work towards them anyway, with the hope of getting closer and closer to justice.
Hope 1: The United States elects our 46th President.
The most basic concept of social justice is that every human life has value, and every person should be treated as such. Much of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and subsequent policies have flown in the face of this concept. The Trump presidency has done great damage to the progress of racial justice in this country. If Donald Trump loses the election, the racist factions that have taken hold and become more mainstream will not disappear. But if Donald Trump gets re-elected (and that is a strong possibility) there will be fortification that will take decades to penetrate. Although the president has been impeached, I do not believe that he will be removed from office. In fact, it’s not clear that removal from office would advance justice, as Trump die-hards would feed a stab-in-the-back myth that might make them even more dangerous. He must be voted out.
Goal: To convince at least 10 people living in swing states to register and vote in this upcoming election.
I do not believe that most people in America are OK with a racist, transphobic, xenophobic, misogynist as President of the United States. I am comforted that our current president lost the popular vote by 2.9 million votes. However, since we are not getting rid of the Electoral College anytime soon, there is a need to be strategic. I do not live in a swing state, but I know people who do, and I can have conversations with them about the importance of voting. I will specifically target those who sat out the last presidential election. There is great power for voters in swing states. And as Uncle Ben said to Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Hope 2: More Young People Become Active in Local Politics
I recently had a conversation with a young adult who shared that he has never voted in an election because he doesn’t think that elections have anything to do with him. He didn’t think that the identity of the President makes much of a difference nor that general policies affect his everyday life. When asked about local elections, he stated that he never paid attention to those and wasn’t really sure what they were about. As a whole, his generation is not apolitical, but there is a lot of work to be done in educating persons about the importance of political decisions.
Goal: Do more educating about the personal stakes in elections.
After a few questions and a brief discussion about this young adult’s healthcare plan, he was able to show see how a law enacted by a President effected his health and well-being. We also talked about what local elections are about and practical strategies for getting involved. What exactly does the school board do? How do you educate yourself about the issues? How do you know a source is reliable? It can be quite confusing for someone navigating the political process for the first time (and sometimes for those who have been voting for decades). I can be a conversation partner for someone trying to navigate these waters, so I plan to have more of these conversations. And while my work is mostly with young adults, young adults are not the only ones that need to have these conversations.
Resolutions is not the right term to use for these matters, because justice issues will not be completely resolved if my hopes come into fruition, but it will move us in the right direction. That’s why I hope. But hope requires action. It is not enough to want something, I must do my part to enact it and know that when there is a collective working with similar hopes and the same or even different goals that get us the same place, my hopes will be manifested.
Dr. Annie Lockhart-Gilroy is a womanist pedagogue and practical theologian who writes and teaches on emancipatory pedagogies and the spiritual formation of youth. She is Assistant Professor of Christian Education and Practical Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. In addition to numerous articles, and posts, she is the author of the forthcoming Nurturing the Sanctified Imagination of Urban Youth. To find out more, visit www.lockhartgilroy.com.