The Two Biggest Stories of 2017

On this last day of 2016, it is quite common for folks to reflect back upon the “year in review” as if to cherish our victories and mourn our losses. News anchors re-view the top news stories of 2016 ad nausea and celebrity deaths seem to be endlessly mourned in this “passing” year. For some more than others, our mourning is more personal. Sad good byes are still holes in the heart aching with every beat. Indeed, some feel especially “beat” up this year, or beat down as is more accurately the case.

But we do have an alternative today, which is to look ahead to 2017 and view the big stories yet to come. Stories or narratives that will in the increasingly (or so it seems to this old dude) short span of 364 days be re-viewed as it, too, shall pass. And we can do both if we so choose. Review the year behind and view the year ahead.

We always have an alternative. We just don’t always real-ize it.

In the space remaining here, I will choose to play the game of “name the new narrative.” The object is to guess the two biggest stories of 2017, and which of them will come out on top.

You’re probably thinking of single events that are up for speculation or anticipation. Predictable events such as the Super Bowl or World Series and such. But, frankly, that’s not the game I’m thinking of at all. I’m thinking of a kind of meta-event that capsulizes the whole of 2017, a larger set of stories that will determine a kind of game-winning narrative.

That said, the first clue I will pick up on in this new year’s stories is that each year builds upon the previous year. Trends matter. Momentum counts. And so one contestant for the game-winner I view as coming our way in 2017 is “Fear Controls.”

You don’t want to hear this, do you? Or read about it? And I don’t blame you!! But the first narrative I can view with eyes wide open has to do with the human experience of fear. There was a lot of it to be experienced in 2016, and there will be even more to come in 2017. The story of fear is real. It comes with change. It comes with uncertainty. And in my 70 years of life looking back vs. ahead, the world is making a more dramatic change politically and socially than at any time since my birth in 1946. World War II was not in my experiential repertoire. So 2017 will be the biggest change globally in my own lifetime, building upon those changes already occurring in 2016. And so the story of fear will soon turn the page into something bigger than I have ever seen before.

With human fear comes the impulse or drive to control. Persons who most fear the unknown are driven to seek authoritarian leadership. It is their way of feeling “under control” in life. And so this story or narrative named fear always has a second name, which is control. Hence, my name for 2017’s narrative#1, which is “fearful control.”

But we have an alternative.

We always have an alternative! The champion always has a challenger!

There is always a counter-narrative! A second story! A potentially better story! And it, too, always builds upon the past and most recent stories already in review. To preview, we must first review. The past is always prologue.

And so the other name I will give to this game-winner in 2017 is “loving influence.” In fact, I will choose even now to declare this to be the winner. The winning story between fear’s control and love’s influence will involve these two separate alternatives for living out the new year. Both sides will compete on this same playing field. It will be a close game. But I have chosen the winner. And it will be “loving influence.” I have chosen this to be the winning narrative for my life in 2017. No matter how many points fear puts on my board, love will have more when it’s all over this time next year.

Here’s the good news. You will choose the winner in your life as well. You will name your own winner for 2017. Consciously or unconsciously, you will pick your own champion. Your own “fearful control” narrative #1? Or your counter-narrative; “loveing influence” narrative #2?

My wife, Sue, has a pattern of walking into a room where I’m watching a football game and asking, “which team are we rooting for?” If I say the name of the team or teams, she’ll then respond with, “I know, but which color of uniforms are we rooting for?” If she’s going to watch something unfold, some game being played out, she needs to know the “uniform difference” between the competing teams. And don’t we all?

The game of life is that same way. We need to know the difference between fear and love. Both are on the same field, but so what? Which team has the ball? And which color of uniforms are we rooting for? If fear has the ball, so to speak, it will predictably seek to be in control. If love is on defense, however, it will predictably seek to influence the potential ball carrier and cause a loss of control. And that’s how the game of life is always played, whether in 2016 or 2017. Defense wins championships. Influence overcomes control. Love casts out fear. Love always causes fear to lose control. End of story.

In a very real sense, we are all watching this larger championship game of 2017 between fear’s control and love’s influence. We are each one taking sides. There is only going to be one winner come December 31, 2017. Only one final story, one official narrative. And the really good news is it is whichever side we make up our own mind to root for. You and I really do get to choose the upcoming winner in this next year’s story of our lives.

Next week’s post in this space: Fear vs. Love, or “which color of uniforms are we rooting for?”

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