Welcome to 2018.
This last year seemed to plunge decency into darkness, but it only seems that way — if we’re honest, decency has been fighting a losing battle for decades.
A long list of injuries and insults have been stacking up against moral society:
- More and more money and tax breaks going to unaccountable megacorporations
- Politicians bought off by special interest groups
- Freedoms taken away in the name of security
- Brilliant minds shuttled into useless careers moving digits around on screens
- Marriages shattered by dissatisfaction, infidelity, and ennui – family units torn apart
- Governments increasingly unaccountable to their people, obsessed with achieving total surveillance, and militarizing their police
- Air and water poisoned
- Automation destroying traditional jobs and no effort to replace them with 21st century jobs
When you look at the list like that, it’s enough to make one want to give up the fight.
I’ve been there. Many, many times. But no matter how uphill the battle appears to be, no matter how many defeats we are handed, this fight is not something we can give up. Ever.
Men, we are in a battle for the heart of our society, the very soul of our civilization. Those forces arrayed against us have simple things in common:
- They seek to divide and oppress us
- They do not care about the weak, the sick, the vulnerable
- They make their money off the backs of the poor
- They acquiesce to human slavery
- They see the world and everything in it as tools to fill the bottomless holes of ego
These are sick people. They deserve our mercy, not our scorn. They need healing, not hate. Hate feeds the Beast that is presently devouring everything green and good in this world.
So let us take a collective breath to hold off our anger. Let us take a cleansing breath to transmute that terrible Anger into a righteous Focus.
We ARE living in the End Times; the End of innocence; the End of complacency; the End of avoidance. The old system of rapacious exploitation is coming crashing down in a slow-motion apocalypse, a long emergency.
A new system is waiting for us to midwife it into existence. We suffer the birth pains now, and probably will for the rest of most of our lives.
I wish it were not so. I wish corporations had not won the rights to spend unlimited money electing their hand-picked political lap dogs. I wish lobbyists weren’t able to blithely write laws to suit their corporate leash-holders. I wish our governments hadn’t fallen to the craven, the corrupt, the human slavers. I wish those in charge of developing our cutting-edge technology had more maturity, less greed, a stronger moral compass. I wish greedy people weren’t destroying 200,000 acres of rainforest every single day to make way for beef cattle for McDonalds. I wish 9/11 had never happened. I wish Waco, Texas had never happened. I wish the Americans had never pulled back from their space exploration efforts after Apollo.
I wish none of this had ever happened; but so do all who live to see such times. The men who came of age during the Revolutionary War not wish to go to war; nor did the men who turned back tyranny in 1939.
But fight they did, and lost their lives, and prevailed, and the world became more moral for a time.
It is not for us to decide our era or battle. All that we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
And we still have time. Time to turn the tide of history, to bend our arc towards a moral society.
The Fierce Gentleman solves real problems in his world as rapidly, effectively and morally as possible. He tackles the biggest problems he is capable of handling and he does not quit, though the road may be long, though he may die without seeing the Promised Land. He fights and sacrifices so that his sons and daughters, or his grandchildren, may have the ability to live in a better world.
He is the immigrant who came to this country without any formal education and worked 70 hour workweeks for low pay for his entire life to save money so his kids could go to college. He is the man who gives up fat Wall Street bonuses to teach special ed children at a fraction of the salary. He is the husband and wife who start a small business in mid-life and scrimp and save so that one day their children may see the fruits of their labor. He cares about a bigger “me”.
You can make a difference. I can make a difference. Together, we can build a more moral world.
We may think there are more important uses of our time, but that is not true. Is Game of Thrones more important? Is maximizing our paychecks more important? Is sleeping with 100 different women more important?
We all know what injustice looks like. We can see it, all around us, every day. Our defining choices — whether we will deserve the title “good men” at our deaths, or not — is what we do when we see injustice. This is our integrity. This is the central question of every hero’s journey, the pivot point of our myths: if we are Good Men, can we allow Evil to flourish?
I write to all those men and women who wish our world to turn a corner in the coming year, who wish to bend the arc of the universe towards a moral society, towards justice. If you are with me, please reply with “I’m with you”.
Thank you for all that you already do.
In this year of 2018, may we all make a greater difference than ever before, take more action, give more, be more, win the battles, turn the tide. May we make strides longer than any in a decade, a generation, may we break the back of the oppressor and the craven despot — and if we fail to do that, may we have the courage to push on anyway, to finish the fight.
Yours in service.
So what can you do, today of all days, the first day of this year, to start the work?
If you can do nothing else, you can give. You can give your money, your time, your attention, your energy. You can mentor a child. You can spend more time with your family, living the example of the world you want them to inherit.
You can make a pledge right now to send at least 1/10th of your gross income this year to a cause that will build a more just world.
That is the pledge I am making, with all of you as my witness. Set it on auto-pay monthly (that will also make it easier to account for come tax time). Charitable contributions are still tax-deductible, for now at least, so there’s really no excuse. Giving brings wealth.
Here are some fine organizations that you might consider supporting:
- Stop Girl Trafficking with the American Himalayan Foundation
- Help educate 130 million girls who are otherwise at risk with the Malala fund
- DonorsChoose.org to improve the education of thousands of kids across the U.S.
- Protect the lungs of our planet, the rainforests
- Protect dwindling African Wildlife
- Eradicate illiteracy around the world
- Give money back to people and companies who refuse to pollute the air anymore
And while we’re on the subject, here’s a thought for next Christmas season, or for the birthdays of people you care about: instead of buying them a consumer product, donate an equivalent amount of money in their name to their favorite cause for good. How quickly we could make a change if we all resolved to do this for 1 year!
I hope you will join me in doing this.
Also published on Medium.