2017 sometimes reminds me of a long dark tunnel, punctuated with brief intermissions of light, and the expectations of light seem somehow too long. By any measure, 2017 has been a revolutionary year—and it gives us plenty of food for thought! By “revolutionary,” I mean constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.
In my experience, a good summary of the year past leads to a good beginning of the year to come. So, let’s do what always helps: see the big picture, find inspirations in effects of the past and present, analyze them, and move on. Because it’s time.
Our past has some power to forecast our present and give a clue on a future. When we consider what happened in the past, we see an abundance of outstanding anniversaries in 2017, such as:
- One hundred years of the Bolsheviks’ takeover in Russia—or, as they call it in my birth country, a centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution
- 150 years of Karl Marx’ Capital where he concluded that no matter what you do, capitalism is not sustainable and inevitably ends in a catastrophe.
- 50 years since the death of Che Guevara, the face of revolutions in Latin America
- 500 years anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, nailed to the church door—which ultimately led to the Protestant revolution.
These events are nothing short of revolutionary, leaving human society with significant consequences, ideas, values, and costs. What’s the echo in 2017?
Why 2017 Is Noteworthy
This year showed the rebellious spirit on the rise, for instance:
- The American saw the game-changing president Donald Trump occupy the White House – and the political trump-quake in action.
- Britain launched its divorce with the European Union.
- Both Russia and China started to challenge the America-led status-quo, unsettling the US influence worldwide.
- Not only the forces of change promoted more women into the top positions, but also fresh feminist wave opposing sexual harassment, #MeToo, has swept many predatory bosses off their chairs. This does resemble a mini-revolution when something’s gotta give.
- Anti-globalization forces proved strong but not all-mighty. When the agenda of some politicians in the US, UK, and France injected adrenaline to other economic nationalists, it started gathering strength in Europe—but because of young progressivist leadership of France’s president Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s prime-minister Justin Trudeau, many centrists in Germany, Netherlands, and even Austria resisted backslash and embraced the world, remaining open to trade and diverse cultures—which, at this day and time, sounds revolutionary enough.
- Diversity and Inclusion have been inching forward, despite a flurry of provoked racist and anti-Semitic activities—which served as wake-up calls for all people who always believed that the USA is a true democracy. The counter-revolution of the alt-right met a strong opposition of the united left and middle/center progressivists and conservatives alike. When further united, this front can do even better in 2018 and beyond, and the battle to sustain the original American Revolution will be won, again.
Taking Things Personally
My ups and downs took turn throughout 2017. They have not been too visible from the outside but felt very much like such on the inside. What do I mean?
First, I do count my blessings for my good, healthy, and growing family; I prepared and performed the second best-attended webinar for SIETAR-Europa (Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research) which is now on YouTube; my presentations at SIETAR-Italia in Milan and SIETAR-USA in San Diego brought me new friends and followers; invited to contribute to a post-conference volume in Italy I did so. Fairly well, right?
Second, my personal “downs” were not too many or too dramatic—may be because America turned me into a somewhat thicker-skinned individual. Indeed, my progressive publisher returned my book with instructions how to elaborate it, and it took me half a year. The entire process upset me and there was no way of expressing my stress with tears or anger—because who am I, a crybaby? No way! I did what’s necessary and moved on and felt much better ever since: the trade book (as they call it in the publishing industry) will be better suited for a mass market. This came at a cost but who cares?
Third comes my detached “down-point” – regarding our politicians who make everyday news while dismantling the prowess of the US both on the international arena and at home. This, of course, is outside-of-me, a virtual public stress—but it has a way of constantly accumulating and weighing me down, however distant. How to deal with that?
Let’s tie it all together and sum up.
Ours is an exciting time to live. We owe it to ourselves to weather the darker times, and:
- Accept the recurrent revolutionary spirit of our time which calls to real action.
- Step out of our like-minded-only communities, our virtual ivory towers, and get accustomed to living in a real, broader world.
- Speak up, support open-minded ideas, and move on with the new dreams of our own.
- On a personal level, my best to-do is to practice what my father used to say, “Tunnels end with light, prepare for that.” True to this spirit, I keep summing up the lessons of tougher times—to move on, in 2018. Even though the light may be effectively disguised, it is there! I am a believer that light and openness are my only options to move on.
Follow me if you can.
Virginia Cutchin says
Hello Fiona! It has been a long time since we last communicated. I am glad to learn that you have been doing well. I read your article with interest, thank you for posting it. It has provoked my own reflection on this past year – much of which I spent living and working in China. Living abroad during the first year of this new Administration catapulted me to a whole new and permanent mind- and heart-set.
It was a great experience to work side-by-side with you, Virginia, and I felt your open-mindedness all the way. Living and working in China again must have been very insightful for you, both personally and professionally, and interesting for others. I’d love to hear about your experiences/reflections on the past year, so let me suggest you write a blog (or series of blogs), send it to me directly, and I then will post it on this website – on the Guest Blog page. Looking forward to it.
Doris Weik says
Excellent article, Fiona! Yes, the revolutionary sparks also hit me towards the end of 2017 which I ended with a beautiful ritual at lake Chiemsee, here in the south of Germany ??. Letting go of people/situations and transforming all of it with ❤️ and the best wishes… 2018 is here and started with lots of interesting activities, very new to me, meeting beautiful brilliant people- mainly women! – who are all on their way! The Power they eminate is obvious and can be felt very strongly ??? – this truly gives me hope to turn the coin on a global level! Yes, as our wonderful teacher Dr Curtis Cao Duy always said: Just DO it! That’s it! Keep on doing your wonderful work, Fiona!
All thumbs up ? and the very best, always
Many thank for your understanding and appreciating the article, Doris. It make me happy to see a kindred soul in you, so many miles away, in the south of Germany. Connecting with people like you gives me hope!
HALLIE STROHL says
I was culling old Christmas card lists, as I have been culling much of my life since turning ninety. Just the sight of your name took me back in a flash to the days when my husband worked with you and Alex, how much he admired your work, and your insight into what the world could be; “Perestroika”, “Glasnost”, and all that those words portended for the future. He would be saddened to see how all that has faded, but he would also be encouraged by your personal successes. You are, among others, part of the light at the end of the tunnel. It has not gone completely out yet.
On a personal level I can instantly relate to your paragraph “…regarding our politicians who make everyday news while dismantling the prowess of the US both on the international arena and at home. This, of course, is outside-of-me, a virtual public stress—but it has a way of constantly accumulating and weighing me down, however distant. How to deal with that?”
At this point in my life I take hope and encouragement from the fact that my children are passionate about trying to make a better world in whatever ways are presented to them. I know that there are others trying to do the same.
Best wishes to you for an enjoyable Christmas, and for good things in 2019.
My dear Hallie,
A lot of water went under the bridge since we communicated last – and even more since your wonderful husband passed away so untimely. But I will always remember him – and not only because he was instrumental for us getting a green card – but mostly because then, in our first year in the US, he stood tall as a role model of a quintessential American. Noble, fair, progressive-thinking, and also incredibly friendly!
I also remember how he once explained what attracted him to you, a Canadian girl; he came back home after the WWII, he liked the values of the hard-working Europeans and saw that many American girls were mostly looking for glamor and going out. And he said he was never disappointed as you were so perfect together.
You are right we are now passing our values to our children. Like yourself, we are also proud of our daughter Helen, who graduated from Cornell and is now a professor of Economics in UT, Austin. They will be all right, our children. I would love to host you – or them – here in our home in NJ. It will be my pleasure to mail you my new book (if you tell me your current address) which comes out in January. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org