Each year I remix some of my hopes and dreams for the New Year, bringing some of last year along, and adding a few new ones… I realize this will become cumbersome in a few years. Nonetheless, here’s the latest remix, 14 Hopes for 2014:
1) SQUASH NEGATIVITY. I commit to shut down murmuring and cynicism and gossip and slander and all forms of passive aggression (even on the blogosphere!) – and to exorcise the demons of negativity. St. Benedict said that speaking negatively about people (even with well-warranted reasons) is “poison”, and it rots away the foundation of community. In its place I hope to practice honest confrontation when hurt or offended and encourage others to do the same.
2) USE TECHNOLOGY WISELY. Like a hammer or any tool, phones and computers can be used constructively or destructively. I want to treat my technology like I do my other tools – use them when I need them. And I don’t need my tools telling me when to work (which is where airplane mode or “shut down” comes in handy). Facebook friends can be like microwave meals – they take little energy to make, but they can also leave you malnourished.
3) READ MORE FICTION – and more books by women and people of color. Even though I keep expanding my library each year, I still read a lot of non-fiction books by white dudes – they’re good books, but there are lots of other good books I also need to read.
4) PRACTICE THE OLD-SCHOOL SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES. Fasting, prayer, solitude… these are exercises for the soul, working out the spiritual muscles. Just like running (which I also hope to do), the hardest step is the first one… but the more we do it, the better we breath and the more alive we feel.
5) LIVE A LIFE THAT IS SIMPLE… AND STILL BEAUTIFUL. Simple living does not mean ugly living. I want to be free like the lilies and sparrows – free of consumerism and clutter and noise– and be surrounded with wonder and beauty. And I want to make cool things out of trash.
6) BE NICE TO SOMEONE WHO IT IS VERY HARD TO BE NICE TO. Being nice is just as important as being right. I hope to disagree well with those who disagree with me and to exude the fruits of the spirit (kindness, gentleness, goodness, patience…). I hope to go out of my way to wear down mean people with love.
7) SPEND MORE MONEY ON OTHERS THAN ON MYSELF. It’s been said that “budgets are moral documents” – I hope our family budget, community budget, and organizational budgets reflect loving our neighbors as we do ourselves –and that you can see it reflected in the line items.
8) BE A MINORITY more often. I hope to put myself in situations where I am surrounded by folks who are not all like me (age, gender, ethnicity, economics, religion, politics…), and where who I am may be the exception rather than the norm.
9) KEEP THE SABBATH HOLY. Old idea – originally God’s idea for everyone, not just Chick-fil-A. Surely I want to integrate work and rest and holy leisure every day, but one day a week I hope to rest in a special way – and do things that refresh my soul.
10) LEARN A NEW SKILL. Over the years I’ve enjoyed learning things like sewing and sign language. 2013 was the year of metalwork – I learned welding and blacksmithing, and we turned weapons into tools . We still have more guns to transform, but I hope to learn another skill in 2014 – maybe pottery, or rugby… uhhh, probably pottery.
11) LAUGH OFTEN. I have a friend who says, “If we can’t laugh then the devil has already won.” Social justice folks can be so serious… and need to loosen up a little. Joy comes from the confidence that the world doesn’t have to stay the way it is. It also helps win over those who oppose you – it’s hard to hate folks who make you smile.
12) JOIN THE SLOW FOOD REVOLUTION. I’m a sucker for fast food, especially Taco Bell – cheap, semi-vegetarian, fully authentic Mexican food that it is. In 2014, I want to jump-off the fast food train, and do something crazy – learn to cook food again. I know, so trendy… but some trends are good. Hope to grow as much food as possible, and share as many good home-cooked meals as possible with as many hungry people as possible.
13) MAKE A NEW FRIEND… who is different from me. We’re all most comfortable around folks like us (whoever “we” are), and most uncomfortable around folks not like us. Inspired by some Muslim friends who have started a movement to move “from fear to friendship”, I hope to make some new friends who don’t all share my beliefs or background. And I like my old friends and hope to keep them too.
14) BELIEVE IN MIRACLES… and live in a way that might necessitate one. Oldie but a goodie – friends living in pretty extreme poverty have taught me that part of the reason that those of us in industrialized countries don’t see many miracles is that we don’t “need” them. When we get sick we go to the doctor, when we get hungry we go to the store… but when we live like the lilies and the sparrows in utter dependence on God we see God provide in miraculous ways. I want more of that… not more poverty, but more of that kind of faith.
So there they are – my 14 Hopes for 2014. What are yours?
Shane Claiborne is an activist and author who is a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement and one of the founding members of The Simple Way.