May We Rage And Love Well In 2022

Silhouette The Girls Jump To The New Year 2022 In Night With Full Moon Light.


In 2019, I had the most vivid and surreal dreams.

The most notable ones portrayed me as a character on the front lines of an exodus. I endeavored alongside rowdy and strategic changemakers, turning our backs on our former city—an empire that caused and maintained suffering on the oppressed.

We escaped and battled against the life we had once lived and refused to participate in an inequitable and dehumanizing status quo. These dreams took place in deserts, forests, industrialized landscapes, and even on water. But the most consistent theme was how we, the people, were as equally resolved to dissent as we were equally enraged—a rage that fueled our determination to break free from an old world.

My dreams strangely (but not so strangely) anticipated the events of 2020. Initially, there was a part of me that wondered whether these dreams were inherited from my ancestors who endured historical world wars and civil resistances. The growing frontier of epigenetics has scientifically proven this phenomenon to be likely. However, there was another part of me—even as early as 2019—that was convinced these visions of the end of an old world and birth of the next were also over the horizon.

“May our pursuit toward justice expand into new visions of international solidarity.”

Then came 2020. Civil unrest awakened and served as a rightful response to racialized violence. Catastrophes magnified from the perils of a pandemic under capitalism. For some, it intensified their hope for systemic and social change and led to amplified social movements and mobilizations. Some anticipated and strove for the fruition of their justice-centered work to be realized soon—perhaps in the coming new year.

But alas, 2021. The year in which many of us hoped for the possibility of closure, to gain answers from 2020’s surge of questions and contentions, only to be confronted with more. To me, the year not only unveiled the realities of systemic oppression, but it also specified the ways in which it manifests and festers.

2021 commenced, and the so-called United States went through an insurrection, impeachment, and inauguration three Wednesdays in a row in January. By springtime, communities were horrified by the ever-appalling breadth of White supremacy in the assault and massacre on elders, women, and femmes of Asian ancestry. The international refugee crisis arrived at the forefront of the West’s public awareness, with increased media footage of human rights violations and brutal military violence against Palestine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and so forth. The injustices from so-called justice systems also carried on as designed: to primarily target Black and Indigenous life, from which children are not exempt. This was also the year when we were alarmed by even more human-made climate disasters, with the Amazon unnaturally and vastly on fireas well as the ocean.

Although we have each adjusted to our respective versions of the “new normal” this year, we remain in the shared discomfort and anxiety of uncertainty: When is this pandemic going to end? Is it ever going to end? Will we ever have peace and worldwide relief from all that has transpired within the past two years? We arrive at what is commonly known as a threshold. An entrance or doorway to what continues to be unknown.

“May we refuse to participate in oppressive ideologies and structures on all scales.”

As a therapist and organizer, I am no stranger to the stories and cases that prove 2021 to be a wider liminal space for everyone—some more than others. It is as though I have a mental anthology of laments and sobering reflections of unanswered questions from losses and devastations, and unaddressed demands for basic needs to be met and community-led solutions to be implemented. And as humans, the threshold and the unknown are not pleasant spaces for us. Even my dreams never had a gratifying ending to the sequence. I would wake up right in the middle of battle, never having tasted the satisfaction of triumph, even though I was hopeful for its coming.

We now draw near to the end of another year. We as human beings have a creative way of relying on this construct of time—a new year—to initiate new beginnings on our behalf. There is a self-soothing aspect to it, especially when we join an excited collective, ringing in possibility and newness that we insist the next year behold. This self-soothing strategy can be helpful to keep our hope alive and to not be overcome by global fatigue, but may it not be at the expense of remembering that real change demands our active and sustained participation, even in the tender aches of living in the unknown.

Hours before this essay was written, the world faced heartbreaking news of the incomparable bell hooks’ passing. In honor of her and her formidable wisdom, we remember her words: “True resistance begins with people confronting pain … and wanting to do something to change it.”

The pursuit of change is tenacious and ongoing. It is not based on a one-time win, but is sustained by a continuation of them. This continuation is emboldened by our firm sense of power and agency: We are what we’ve been waiting and longing for. We have what it takes.

In 2022, may we bear the same enduring, revolutionary spirit of the rowdy and strategic changemakers in my nightly dreams. Those who are no different from the thousands of workers, unionizers, and farmers who demanded livable and dignified working conditions and wages this past year.

May our pursuit toward justice expand into new visions of international solidarity, where we have a shared conviction that Turtle Island will not be free until Palestine, Myanmar, Cuba, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and more countries in the Global South are free.

May we refuse to participate in oppressive ideologies and structures on all scales.

May our actions toward collective and ecological liberation be ever so embodied, strategic, and sustained in the context of accountability and interconnectedness.

May our hope be ever so radiant, nourished by the guidance of our honorable ancestors and elders, ever so stirred by rightful rage and abundant love. May we be a community that is historically and widely known to have raged and loved well.

My offering of resources: 
Awakenings: The Collaborations That Create Change
Beautiful Trouble
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow
The Map: Social Change Ecosystem

Gabes Torres is a psychotherapist, organizer, and artist. Her work focuses on anti-colonial approaches and practices within the mental health field.

Printed with permission from YES! Magazine.