Before the open letter to 2024, I want to address 2023.
2023, you can get fucked.
Okay, now that 2023 is covered, I have a few things to say and ask of 2024.
There’s something special about putting a year to rest and starting “fresh”. A fresh start of a new year acts largely a placebo for us humans, but it can be an effective anchor for change. So, my dear 2024, I beg of you to take this letter to heart.
We’ve had plenty of death, violence, genocide, racism, hatred, disinformation, selfishness, capitalism, and corrupt power for a millennia. So hear me out, maybe, just maybe, could we try something else for a little bit?
What if 2024 was the year where we focused on making life better for everyone else? What if we spent time building people up, instead of tearing them down?
So let’s hit on some of the heavy-hitting items:
- Human Health
We’ve been building a war machine for nearly two centuries. At first it was built out of necessity but now it’s just the tail wagging the dog. It feels as if we’re on the precipice of another World War. We have the on-going attack on Ukraine from Russia. The genocide going on in the Gaza Strip. And violence occurring in many other places that haven’t crossed my radar from my place of comfort and privilege. But for what?
What are we fighting over? Why are we continuing to fuel this monster? How is it that human-kind cannot learn from history? I’m never an advocate for violence, but there are a few folks that deserve a bullet - I imagine it’s not hard for most folks to guess who I’d put on that list.
2024, I’m begging you to show up for the oppressed, the victims of these geo-political dick swinging contests, instead of allowing this perpetual war machine to continue.
It used to be that we citizens believed in our political system (speaking largely of the USA here). It used to be that the politicians would listen to their constituents, even if only in lip service, rather than being subservient to their parties or a corrupt political figure. Now, they’re just saying all the quiet things out loud and no one, not a single person, is holding them accountable
I’m so very tired of The United States acting as if we’re the moral authority, the best country on the planet, when we’re far from it. Nationalism is broken, so just stop it. The mere concept of nations, borders, citizenship, is antiquated and clearly not working anymore. Was it ever working?
2024, I’m asking that we purge politicians from our political process and bring back civil servants. Leaders should lead with compassion, empathy, and strength - in that order. Their own personal wealth, power, and belief systems should have no effect on the way they act in their jobs.
I’m begging that we bring an end to the party system. Repeal Citizens United. Remove dark money, billionaire influence, lobbying, and more from our political processes. Implement new technology to make voting easier, widespread, and as easy as checking your email. The technology has existed for decades, can we fucking implement it now?
People can’t afford to live under capitalism any more. It’s not sustainable. Everything we’re doing is wrong. I can’t leave my house without seeing 15 ways to spend money in the first three minutes of driving. It’s a rare day where I don’t swipe a credit card for one reason or another.
It pains me every time I see Bezos or Musk launching a new rocket, meanwhile people are struggling to afford day-to-day expenses. It boggles my mind that we cannot accurately represent the buying power of our citizens and compare it to the effects of never-ending greed from Wall Street and the Ruling Class.
We can’t continue to pillage our planet, pump more oil, make more plastic, buy more tech, and continue to raise the prices of goods and services - we can’t do it. Profits don’t always have to rise. The economy doesn’t always have to grow.
2024, I’m begging you to have us all take a step back and evaluate what we’re doing here. How do we get off this runaway hamster wheel of over-spending and enriching share-holders? Billionaires must to be taxed into oblivion, they’re obsolete anyways.
We need to implement Universal Basic Income right now. We need to provide people with a real lifeline to be able to survive. The Right and the Left both have a lot of work to do to actually support the poor. We all can do more to build each other up. Vote for equality, vote for equity, vote for unionization. I’ll even tell you where to get the UBI money, tax the billionaires to extinction, actually tax corporations, and reduce our military spending. The arms race needs to slow down.
Life is for people, not corporations. People are people, corporations are a legal entity, not people.
Bonus Points: If we reduce our military spending, we can also make a pretty good impact on carbon emissions because the US Military is one of the biggest polluters on the planet.
A religious belief system has no business weighing in on laws that govern people. In a country allegedly founded on freedom of religion, I think we also forget that it also means freedom from religion.
I believe that each individual, is in charge of their own spiritual journey – a journey that they need to embark on in their own way. We don’t need laws being created that are heavily influenced by one religion, infringing on the rights of other religions, or folks who remain agnostic, atheistic, or even polytheistic.
We used churches as a foundation of rule solely out of necessity over the last few thousand years. We did so because they had one of the most effective way of disseminating information, collecting taxes, and had a common framework and belief system for those that lived in their borders. In a highly mobile world like we have today, this is antiquated and not effective.
Governments must be secular. Public schools must be secular. We cannot force feed religion on people, particularly when certain religions out-right ignore reality, science, and often human decency.
Evangelicals, this is doubly true for you. Do you answer the door when Jehova’s Witnesses show up at your door? Are you open to what they have to say? (I know the answer to this since I grew up in a heavily evangelical household). Stop shoving your belief systems down our throats. If gay people get married, it doesn’t sully your marriage (if it can, your marriage is already fucked). If trans people play sports, is it really the end of the world? Should we ostracize a few people as a blanket statement, just because you’re unwilling to accept who they are? If you’re saying yes, you’re the problem here - and also have a hearty fuck you as a side dish.
2024, I’m asking you to rip out theology from the platform of politicians, from the courts, from schools, and from our daily lives. Religion must be opt-in.
Whoo boy, this one is going to be fun. Let’s start by saying, COVID is not gone. It’s still very much alive. People are suffering from long COVID, people are getting infected, lives are being lost, and immune-compromised individuals are paying the price.
Disinformation campaigns have politicized science. My own family is largely unvaccinated because of their political leanings and the spoonfuls of anti-science nonsense they’re fed on a daily basis.
Getting vaccinated is important for an individual but even more for communities. For those of you who were able to get the COVID vaccination but were unwilling to for one reason or another, you are the reason this shit is still around and you are partially responsible for every death along the way.
Health care is a human right, it’s not a privilege. Everyone on this planet deserves to be healthy, have access to high quality medical care, at an affordable cost. Whatever we have going on in the United States is a complete and total disaster. We may have high-quality providers, but gaining access to them is terrifying. The mere fact that someone may have to choose between paying their mortgage, fixing their car, putting food o the table, or going to see a doctor is unbelievable. “The United Sates is the best country in the world”, my ass.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to be provided high quality healthcare through my many different employers over the years, but it’s kept me tied to my employers instead of enabling me to break out on my own and start a business. What’s truly amazing is that the party of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and “support small business”, is the party that does everything they can to remove access to healthcare, make it more expensive, and then straps on their knee pads to fellate the billionaires profiting off of the death of The American Dream, and more accurately, the death of real people.
2024, I’m begging you to give equal and equitable access to healthcare across this entire planet. I’m begging for sOCialIZed medicine. PLEASE give us the ability to find the coverage we need and get it. PLEASE remove the tie to employers for good healthcare. Healthcare.gov is a joke. The plans on there are a joke. Even if you can afford to spend $3000/mo on a good medical plan for your family, you can’t find a good plan. If an insurance company offers a plan commercially, it should be made available to every single person for purchase at a fair and equitable price. Employer subsidies, government subsidies, blah blah blah – it doesn’t need to be this way.
We’ve had plenty of hate. It’s time to embrace love.
2024, I’m asking for you to fill us all with a sense of love for our fellow humans. I’m asking that you provide all people with love, understanding, and empathy. I need support in this as well. Allow us all to experience moments of peace, lightness, quiet.
After spending the last year pretty much solely focused on Artificial Intelligence for work, I can loudly proclaim that I just don’t care about it. Until we begin to use AI for improving our planet instead of just sucking more capital out of the system and filling the world with regurgitated noise, I have no use for AI.
It’s not the panacea that it’s heralded as. It’s not the end of the world. But if we continue to implement AI how we are now, it could very well cause so much turmoil on our planet that it could be life ending. Trying not to read too much into the shenanigans that happened at OpenAI, it’s clear that there are some very scary things that can happen if AI continues to be implemented basically unchecked.
The capitalists will be using it to find new ways to make more money. The creepy will be using it to generate CSAM and non-consensual images of other people. Political operatives will use it to fill the 2024 election process in the United States (and other elections globally) with disinformation. What will you do with AI?
2024, I ask you to focus us on the human aspect of work. The creativity, intelligence, empathy of humans, and the value of having humans in the process. I ask that you help guide technologists and developers in charge of building tooling with AI to build ethical tools, oversight, and protection.
Finding the Light
The world is dark and it’s extremely difficult to take care of ourselves when we have to keep grinding just to survive. If all you do with your life is grind, what’s the point?
My hope for 2024 is that each and every person is able to find moments of peace, rest, and give themselves some self-love. It’s something that I struggle to do for myself, so I’m definitely not preaching at anyone that is reading this.
2024, for me
In 2024, I want to give myself the grace and self-love to be able to ask for what I need and feel okay taking time when I need space for myself. I used to have great habits including meditation, exercise, and journaling, but I just don’t give myself that time or space anymore. There are hundreds of excuses I can come up with, but the truth is, I’m just not prioritizing myself.
I want to live by the words rest is best, taking time to just be – and do nothing. I’m awful at resting, even when I’m at my most tired. If I allow myself to rest, I think that I’ll miss out on something, if I nap I’ll miss a work message, or my wife will struggle more if I don’t take every spare moment I have to help her with our son. The problem with this current thinking process is if I don’t have energy, I’m no help to anyone.
As I’m writing this I’m deeply in the middle of stress induced hives covering my entire body. I’m on steroids and Benadryl to keep the hives at bay. My body feels awful, yet I can’t rest. I’ve even been given support from our friends and family to watch our son while I rest, but in those moments I just can’t seem to rest.
On top of it all, I want to build up my empathy reserves again. Given the year we’ve had, it’d come as no surprise to anyone that my empathy tank is on empty, and as my Career Coach told me, if I don’t have empathy for myself how can I have it for others?
Finally, for 2024, a lot of my writing, work, and side projects will be entirely focused on Quality. I have a fairly epic blog post (or series of essays) that I’m currently writing, completely focused on Quality. Quality in work, relationships, food, goods and services, and more. Stay tuned for that one.
Take some time to work on you, you and your loved ones will thank you.