Will we be the same human beings in the new year? Will this year be different? Will humanity change? Along with 2020 comes the hope and yearning for a more peaceful human race. How do we try to heal from the tragedies of 2019, but not forget?
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, in the days of ole lang syne!” Why do people belt out this traditional song on December 31 at midnight? Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish limerick about past relationships. My take—we are to consider and contemplate on whether we want to remember ruptures of past friendships and to repair or not to repair.
The year of 2019 is gone forever. Those 365 days cannot be undone or changed. No rewind button on mistakes. No magic wand to make the past disappear.
What would we erase in 2019?
We would erase wars and international conflicts which, in turn, would erase the plight of refugees and humanitarian crises. Children, women, and men would not die of famine, diseases, and bombs.
We would erase murder, sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, suicide.
We would erase typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, tropical storms, massive floods, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, blizzards, sizzling heat waves, drought and raging wildfires, which, in turn, would erase loss of lives and property damage.
Freak accidents. Vehicle accidents. Yes, we would erase accidents if we could.
What would we erase in our personal lives in 2019?
Sometimes we desperately want to erase a day, a week, a month, or an entire year. Acts done to us without our permission. Choices made that we regret. We cannot suck back in the words said in anger. Or unsay words we should have said. The tongue cannot undo a lie. The lips cannot un-tell an untrue story.
A spouse may want to erase a divorce and begin the marriage again. “There’s silence at the table/He wants to talk but he’s not able/For all the shame that’s locked him deep inside/Oh, but her words are the medicine/When she says they can begin again/And forgiveness will set him free tonight/As heaven touches earth.” Those are the lyrics by Jason Gray to his song called “Every Act of Love.”
If only we could have a do-over day in 2019 and go back in time to make a change. What would we do differently? What would we erase or overcome? Would we become stronger in the broken places or erase what caused the broken places?
Grace and redemption
“That is what life is about. We do not get re-dos, but we do get second chances.”—Jeffrey Fry
According to a 2019 article in the Columbus Dispatch, Harley Blakeman, a former felon, graduated from Ohio State University with a business degree, and recently started a website that helps companies connect with former criminals seeking employment.
“God answers the mess of life with one word: Grace.”—Max Lucado
Make a list of all persons we harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. That’s the eighth step in the 12 Steps of AA. Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admit it. That’s the tenth step.
“Redemption isn’t giving a bank robber a job as a teller.”—Jane Velez-Mitchell
In this fallen world, sometimes we need to seek justice before we give mercy. And perpetrators deserve prosecution. Consequences are a reality when one chooses to harm another.
Alas, we cannot erase situations, happenings, or events in 2019. We cannot erase tragedy or trauma. We cannot erase mistakes.
But we can reflect on 2019 and become more aware of hurting humanity, focus on change, give and accept forgiveness when genuine, renew hope. One person can reach out to one person. And that person can reach out to another.
Let’s make 2020 a better year across the globe.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in the US.