Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

We need to talk.

You are moving out in just over 48 hours. No ifs, buts, or maybes. So start packing. Once you’re out, the locks are going to be changed and you won’t be coming back in.

“We are never, ever, ever getting back together.” Taylor Swift

Despite the cruel blows you dealt us in the last 12 months, we are survivors. We have coped with the loss of many of our favourite celebrities by sharing tributes and recalling our most beloved memories of them. We have watched catastrophic war rain down on the people of Aleppo, and we’ve rallied. We’ve donated, we’ve shared information, we’ve called our politicians. Many of us were aghast as we watched Brexit happen, One Nation come back to the Senate, and Trump become president-elect. But we’ve navigated that too. We’ve made friendships with people from different cultures, we’ve advocated for acceptance and we’ve stood up to racism.

Once again, we’ve watched as the sheer negligence and cold-heartedness of Australia’s refugee policy resulted in a death – the death of a 27 year old man on Christmas Day. A man who escaped genocide in Darfur, only to die on Manus. He should never have died. But we’ve taken to the streets, we held a vigil outside the Minister for Immigration’s office, and again we’ve been on the phone and emailing our politicians.

On top of all that, some of us have contended with personal crises. We’ve been diagnosed with an illness (physical or mental), we’ve lost a loved one through death or divorce, we’ve nursed a loved one through an illness, we’ve changed and no longer fit in where we used to, we’ve had to stop work because of illness or redundancy or there’s just no work to be had. And we are still standing. Or sitting, if we can’t stand it anymore. But we’re still here. We’ve sought treatment and support. We’ve found a community who cares for us. We’ve turned our attention and time to other worthy causes outside of work.

In short, 2016, you never had the best of us.

We know you’ll wreak more havoc in the next 2 days. But we’ll survive it, just like we’ve survived all the other stuff you’ve thrown at us. And when you’re gone, we’ll still be here.

St Augustine once wrote, “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”

Well, 2016: we are good and angry. And we have courage. These are my two companions, our two companions, going into 2017.

We are going to get angry. We are going to get angry when we see people being used as political stepping stones, or being disadvantaged for someone else’s benefit. When people are dying as a result of our government’s neglect, we are livid. We are going to get angry when we see people chewed up and spat out by a corrupt system or a corrupt person, left to deal with the fall-out on their own. Be it government, church, spouse, boss – if someone causes harm, we will be angry.

And then we will use our courage to make a change.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” Martin Luther King Jr

Courage is just doing what we think is important, even when we feel afraid. And there are many actions that are borne from courage, big and small. Seeing all the sadness and pain on the news and not turning off the TV, but taking a moment to 1) make space for all those emotions and 2) think about how you can do something to help people who are in pain – courage. Signing a petition to support something you believe in or making a phone call to your MP or a Minister – courage. Taking a stand on something you know won’t be popular amongst your friends or family, but doing it anyway because you are being honest about what you think – courage.

So 2016, as long as we have just a little bit of anger and a little bit of courage, we have hope. And as long as we have hope, you will never get the best of us. So please collect your things now. And don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

Here’s to a hopeful 2017.