This is one of the few times when a Happy Friday post falls on a holiday, so I’ll begin by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! (On a somewhat related note, New Jersey is warmer than Southern California on Christmas day. To put that in perspective, Ventura, CA – my current home – checked in as the warmest place in the country on Christmas day last year. What a difference a year makes.)
Speaking of this past year, and with the last Happy Friday of 2015 upon us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the trials and tribulations our country, and world, faced. I’ll start with the tough times, transition to the positive, and finish with some food for thought from Soulpancake.
#BlackLivesMatter Movement and Racial Tensions
Race and Police Bias
[Re] Segregation of Schools in the United States
Terrorism and Mass Shootings
Behind the Bloodshed
Syria and War
War and Its Impact on Education
Harassment and the Internet
Wild Wild Web and Trolls
State of Emergency- Homelessness in Southern California and Hawaii
LA Homelessness Intensifies
Hawaii #1 in Homelessness
However, it wasn’t all negative in 2015. Here’s a look at some of the positive things that happened this past year.
Compassion for Refugees
Sr. Norma and McAllen, Texas
Kindness and Complacency towards Syrian Refugees
Helping the Homeless
A Man With a Big Heart
A House for the Homeless
A Night in Downtown Ventura
Lending a Helping Hand and Random Acts of Kindness
The Price of Giving
A Stranger and Wallet
As evidenced by the articles above, plus what most of us have seen on television and social media, our country has a lot of room for improvement in terms of racism and how we treat others, gun-related violence, and the growing homeless epidemic. I am hopeful that in 2016 we will make progress on all fronts.
As I sit here with writer’s block and continuously rewrite this paragraph, the one question that constantly comes to mind is: what can we do about these pressing social justice issues? I have no answer. However, what I do know is that all of us as individuals have the capacity to change the communities we live in. We all can consciously analyze how we interact with one another, and think of how or if we let racism dictate our actions. We can reflect on how we view those individuals who are homeless and sit or sleep on the corners of busy streets, asking for any act of kindness. We can try and empathize with them and decide what we can or cannot do to help. If we can make a change on an individual level, we can make a change on a communal level, and from there who knows what is possible. It starts with us.
So with that being said, Soulpancake put a video asking this question: If you could change anything in the world, what would you change? They asked people ages 0-100 (but realistically ages 5-105) what they would change in the world. This question forces us to reflect on our values and think about what we would want to change. It could be idealistic, realistic, simple, or complex. It is whatever you make of it. It’s certainly worth spending two minutes of your time hearing the responses.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for allowing me to share my thoughts with all of you every other Friday. Whether you’ve been reading the past three years, or this is your first email, I thank you. You’ve let me publically explore my thoughts and ideas on the world over the past few years. You may not always agree with what I say, but I appreciate having a platform to connect with family and friends from all over the country.
Here’s to a joyous 2016,