For me, 2016 was a time of massive change. My wife and I moved from our home of 25 years in the beautifully quiet hills outside of Willits and bought a home in town where we could walk everywhere. I turned 73, which isn’t an obviously important age like 21, 60, 75, 80, or 100, but it was the year I healed old wounds, learned to love, and let go of fear.
I wrote about my process in a series of articles: (1) The Soul’s Code: Embracing My Destiny as a Man (2) My Mother, My Wife, My Marriage: How Inherited Family Trauma Can Impact Our Relationships; (3) Lost Fathers: How Deaths, Divorces, and Disconnections Impact Our Health and Happiness.
On the world stage, Time Magazine notes, “Between historic elections, populist movements in America and Europe and the loss of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, and more, 2016 was a year like no other. In the last 12 months, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the U.K. voted to leave the E.U. and the world witnessed the destruction of Aleppo and the desperation of its citizens through social media. In moments of hope, nearly 200 countries ratified the Paris climate change agreement, refugee athletes competed in the Olympics, the Chicago Cubs broke a century-long curse to win the World Series, and Native American water protectors stood firm at Standing Rock.”
Each year I pick a Tarot card from the Voyager Deck. For 2017 it was “The Magician.” Here’s what it said, in part: “The magician symbolizes the law of talent. Magic comes from the ancient Magh, meaning power. Your power comes from being a channel for the universe.” So here are the things I see coming in 2017:
1. Love and fear compete for our attention.
In 1979 Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., wrote a little book, Love is Letting Go of Fear. In the introduction he says, “In 1975, the outside world saw me as a successful psychiatrist who appeared to have everything he wanted. But my inner world was chaotic, empty, unhappy, and hypocritical. My twenty-year marriage had recently ended in a painful divorce. I had become a heavy drinker and had developed chronic, disabling back pain as a means of handling guilt.”
Jampolsky found personal healing in A Course in Miracles, and founded the first Center for Attitudinal Healing in Marin County (My wife, Carlin, was one of the early volunteers). There are now centers throughout the world based on this simple statement: Teach only love for that is what you are. 2017 will bring multiple opportunities to promote love or fear. Choose love.
2. Mental illness and mental health are turned upside down.
My father was the black sheep of the family. His brothers were all successful businessmen who focused on the bottom line and made lots of money. My father was a dreamer who wanted people to love each other and he became increasingly depressed when he couldn’t fit into the system. He was sent to a mental hospital, diagnosed as manic-depressive, and given shock treatments. He later escaped from the “nut house” and became a successful puppeteer in San Francisco and taught people from different cultures how to love one another.
Those living in a sick system appear to be “crazy” and are locked up, while truly crazy people are chosen to lead us. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the official resource used by experts to diagnose mental disorders. Here are the major symptoms for Narcissistic personality disorder:
- Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
- Exaggerating achievements and talents
- Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
- Requiring constant admiration
- Having a sense of entitlement
- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
- Being envious of others and believing others envy you
In describing those who suffer from Narcissistic personality disorder, mental health experts at the Mayo Clinic say, “You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection.”
2017 will be the year where we change our views on mental health and mental illness. Those we have been viewing as “crazy” may well be those who are the most sensitive to the dysfunction going on within our culture and resist “fitting in.” It will also be a year where the “craziness” of those in power is recognized for what it is.
3. A new understanding of mental illness emerges.
It is becoming increasingly evident that our system is killing us. We live on a finite planet, with finite resources, yet are addicted to an economic system that must continue to grow in order to survive. The world population is 7.5 billion people and we’re adding 80 million people a year. Think about all those people. They want the same things we want—clean air, clean water, a good job, hope for their children and grandchildren. But our system increasingly is consuming the earth for the benefit of the few. A sane system believes “enough is enough.” An insane system believes, “too much is never enough.”
Indigenous people have recognized our pathology for some time. In his 1979 book, Columbus and other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism, Jack D. Forbes, professor emeritus and former chair of Native American Studies at the University of California at Davis, says, “For several thousands of years human beings have suffered from a plague, a disease worse than leprosy, a sickness worse than malaria, a malady much more terrible than smallpox.”
Forbes calls our current system a “cult of aggression and violence” and says it is based on exploiting vulnerable people and the earth itself. “The rape of a woman, the rape of a land, the rape of a people, they are all the same. And they are the same as the rape of the earth, the rape of the rivers, the rape of the forest, and the rape of the people, they are all the same.”
2017 will be the year a significant number of people recognize the destructiveness of the Wetiko virus infecting our world and begin the healing that must occur for humans to survive and thrive on planet earth.
4. The water protectors at Standing Rock awaken a new commitment to action on behalf of humanity.
Like many I was moved and shocked by what I saw as the Standing Rock Sioux faced water hoses and rubber bullets in freezing temperatures to protect the earth, rivers, and the people. The brutality of the police sickened me, but the courage of all those who stood fast in face of the “cult of aggression and violence” was inspiring.
A number of people from my home town joined the protests at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, a historic gathering of tribes, allies, and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. Their message is simple: “In honor of our future generations, we fight this pipeline to protect our water, our sacred places, and all living beings.” You can learn more at Stand with Standing Rock and watch the short film created by the Standing Rock Sioux.
2017 is likely to be a year of turmoil and transformation. It will be easy to become discouraged and fearful. It will take great courage to choose love. I write from a place of love. Your comments sustain me. I look forward to hearing from you. Join me on Twitter and you can always email me.
Photo credit: Unsplash