The Hope of a New Year
It is always so wonderful watching the New Year’s celebrations around the world. We collectively reflect, close a life chapter, set new goals and it all feels possible with a New Year. For a brief moment in time, humanity is connected by aspiration, intention and the desire to make the next year better.
2017 was at times a dispiriting year. It was frustratingly easy to focus on differences. I have not read it yet, but since Dan Rather published his book, “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism”, I have thought a lot about that question. What unites us?
For years, the chasms between philosophies and ideologies have deepened and broadened, maybe not so obviously to many, culminating in the shocks (for some) of Brexit and the election of Trump. Both events made me curious, among other feelings. How had we reached that point?
I’ve always held that as humans we have much more in common than differences. That belief was always reinforced by my experience living and working in different cultures over the years. The possibility to earn a living, live in reasonable comfort and safety, surrounded by family and friends, with access to a safety net in times of difficulty, and concrete reasons to believe in a bright future – your own and your children’s – these are the base commonalities I thought we all shared.
On further reflection, I don’t think the premise is wrong. Those essentials are just not in place for too many people, triggering a need for change. From a historical point of view, the need for change is often exploited, making the situation much worse before it gets better, which I fear is the danger now.
So my hope for 2018, as I watch the beautiful fireworks in city after city, feel the chills of one year ending and another year starting, and know so many are hoping to be better and for better, is that we don’t unravel further and we don’t let ourselves be exploited for the benefit of a select few, but do make progress on the issues many are facing. At a minimum, I hope we can remember what unites us, to be kind to each other and to engage in a more productive way with each other.
Happy New Year