If you haven’t watched Oprah’s mic-dropping acceptance speech for the Cecile B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement at Sunday’s Golden Globes, do, as it sheds more light on what happened in 2017 than all the press and all the media has done in the past several months.
Further, it sets the tone for what is to come in 2018, and it’s those seven little words that really drive it home: “a new day is on the horizon.”
For decades and generations, things have been a certain way. A dynamic has been in place and accepted as such, but finally, finally, people are rising up against it to speak their truth and to do not what is expected of them, but what is right.
Oprah said, “what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” We need to cling to that, embody that, live that, teach that. “Affecting change” doesn’t have to mean that we do one whopping thing that makes history. It doesn't have to mean we are the public face for a cause or group, and it doesn’t even have mean that we need our own hashtag that makes waves across the globe.
No. We can affect massive change every day simply by speaking and living our truth. This is how the new day on the horizon takes first light.
Being honest about our own experiences and feelings, daring to empathize with the experience and feelings of another, removing the judgements we have about how or why something happened, and seeking to understand a deeper, more human aspect of simple connection is how we, en masse, begin to affect massive change.
This is what we are doing when we choose to be kind, just, open, honest, and relentlessly optimistic, over, and over, and over again.
It’s not for the faint of heart. The ongoing pursuit of what is right and true starts with living a life that is equally right and true. Living that kind of life can feel lonely and isolating at times. Still, if we want to leave this world a better place than we found it and give our kids the gift of bravery, we need to continue to show up and speak the truth.
Art imitates life, and it’s fitting that the themes of institutionalized abuse, racism, and the grave misuse of power were illuminated publicly in Hollywood; a true reflection of what happens - shockingly - every day, for many people. This is not happening only in far off corners of the world. It’s right here at home, next door, down the hall, one black over, at her office or in his school.
If 2017 did one thing well, it was to smoke out all the rats from the corners of our psyche. It shed light on the deep wounds, core feelings of entitlement, and years of people living in the margins. 2017 brought it all to the surface, and if you are paying attention to what is happening around you, you can feel the surge in power; the kind of power that comes from talking about these big and heavy and complex and deep seeded conversations at the dinner table with your family, over cocktails with friends, on your commute to work. The kind of power that starts to replace the old thinking of “this is just the way it is” with the simplicity and force behind “why?” and “no more.” The kind of power that establishes a new baseline of how to behave, and how to treat others not because of what’s in it for you, because you can, or because you are too afraid not to - but because it is the right thing to do.
And those little cracks of light are breaking through even the darkest horizon.