In the pre-Covid times (at least as far as I can recall them), the new year was a time to celebrate. We set resolutions that we hoped could make the coming year even better than the one that had just passed.
At the end of 2020, my big hope for 2021 was that it wouldn’t be worse than 2020, but I think I’d given up on that hope by January 7th. As we begin 2022, we’re setting record highs for new Covid infections, so I feel like it might be a mistake to set any expectations for the year ahead.
Always room for Hope
That would probably be the prudent approach, but my optimism has always been stronger than my prudence. Consider this a hopeful New Year greeting from your optimistic friends at Civil Squared!
We’re looking forward to a year of great conversations, and what better way to start than with some of the best ideas we heard in 2021? In our latest edition of the Civil Squared podcast, we’re revisiting some of those ideas because we’re confident you’ll be able to apply them to your 2022 discussions!
A few tips from our guests
Last year, we talked to people all over the country who are making their communities better.
Grant Callen from Empower Mississippi talked about mass incarceration and how much it costs all of us, and the statistics he cited were unsettling. Yet despite that, Grant believes that this is an issue where, “People of good will can come together, across the political spectrum, and still get something done.”
Tony Kitchens, someone who was formerly incarcerated, gave me insight into the challenges that people face when they leave prison. He told me that, when we want to help others, our first step ought to be to ask what we can do and then listen carefully to those who need our help. Needing help and being helpless are two different things, and we’d do well to remember that as we try to make the world around us better.
Colleen Murphy taught me about transitional justice theory and how it has been used around the world and here in the United States to heal communities after systemic wrongdoing. She encouraged me to recognize that being honest about our limitations and our mistakes in the past is necessary if we want to do better in the future.
Finally, Tony Woodlief talked about his recent book, I, Citizen: A Blueprint for Reclaiming American Self-Governance. If we want to make our communities better places to live, we need to remember what we can and can’t do. He told me, “Any great reform begins with the human heart, and you only have control over one of those.” But, he continued, “what you do with yours can affect what happens to others’.”
Another good reason to be optimistic
I’ve included the full episodes of the podcast with each of these guests in our five links this week. And if all that isn’t enough to encourage you, I’ve also included a link to some global polling on why people are optimistic about 2022. I guarantee, no matter how pessimistic you are, one of those reasons will make you smile!
5 links worth your time
- The high cost of incarceration affects communities across America.’
- Formerly incarcerated individuals face “second prison”, greater need for community reintegration.
- Transitional justice theory looks at the past to help communities move forward.
- Improving our ability to self-govern is front and center in the latest book I, Citizen.
- Five big reasons to be optimistic about life in 2022.
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