Today is Tuesday, December 16. My heart is heavy. One could say I’m emotional about the holidays, as I tend to be, but it’s more than that today. In the last 24 hours, the earth has been anything but peaceful. On Monday morning, we woke up to reports of a hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, and a mass shooting in Pennsylania, where a suspect who killed his ex wife and her family is still on the loose. This morning we learned that the Taliban had slaughtered 132 children and nine adults in a school in Pakistan, ranging in ages from 10 to 18. I simply cannot fathom that carnage.
Hanukkah started today. Christmas is just nine days away. Many of us are busy stressing out about getting the shopping and the wrapping done, whether or not the kids will like their gifts, and how to fit in everything that needs to be finished before year’s end. We’re hoping no one gets sick, that our travels are safe, and we’re thinking about what we’ll do for New Years. We’re Instagramming and Facebooking our great holiday moments, and we’re shopping and baking and caroling. But today, take a moment to pause and look around. Try to put your worries into perspective. Try to put your blessings into perspective. Don’t ignore what’s happening in the world, but rather take a moment to really think about it – and what little things you can do to try and make it a better place, despite these horrors around us.
We can try every day to be harbingers of peace.
I’m not naïve enough to believe in world peace. But, I do believe that we have the power within us as individuals to do small things that can make a long term difference as a larger whole. We can try every day to be harbingers of peace. We can strive to be truly good – to hold the door for a stranger, to let someone step in line in front of us, to drop ridiculous grudges and frivolous lawsuits. We can forgive. We can stop being so narcissistic, only thinking about our own needs. We can become aware and stop hatred and jealousy when we feel it arriving in our hearts. We can truly teach our children through our own actions to love and to be kind; to be colorblind and to see humans – good and bad – as the individual people they are, not judging them because of their color, sexual orientation, gender or lot in life.
We can’t stop mad men like those responsible for the horrible events of this week. But, we can support entities that help with mental illness (which is often a cause of mass shootings). We can make an effort to better understand and treat it, as well as depression – and not to avoid the topics simply because they make us uncomfortable. We can send a care package to a soldier who is fighting for our freedom. We can take a stand on gun control. We can vote. We can help build a home for those in need, instead of taking that family vacation.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives. We get so wrapped up in the ridiculousness and eccentricity of it all, as perfectly captured on any one of the reality TV shows here in the U.S. Keeping up with the Joneses is still a thing – whether we want to admit it or not. So this year, when you’re making your resolutions, try to think bigger. Go beyond the weight loss wishes or the promotion goals, and think about what you can truly do to try and spread light in this world. I’m making that vow, and I hope you will, too. I’ve constantly got to remind myself to let go of stress around silly things. I have a daily reminder in my phone to think about my blessings and the joy in my life, and I am making a commitment to do one major volunteer effort this year with my family. I’m donating my time to help with two organizations that take care of those with life-threatening conditions. And daily, I’m simply trying to be conscientious of others around me – letting someone pull out in front of me while driving, or giving someone my spot in the grocery line when I’ve got 20 things and they’ve got two. Tipping well.
Little things every day.
If we can do enough good things, no matter how small, perhaps they will begin to dominate the headlines. Never stop trying to make this world a more peaceful and happy place – even if it’s just in your little corner. Smile at a stranger. Pull a “Pay it Forward” move in the coffee line. Volunteer in the middle of the summer, when you may have to give up a day at the beach to do so. Foster a dog.
I’d love to hear your ideas for making the world a more peaceful place. What have you done, or will you do, to shine a little light in 2015? Wishing you all a blessed and peaceful New Year.
Photo by Francesco; used under Creative Commons license.