All you want in life is to be happy – something that many of you will know isn’t something that comes easily to me. You want to think the best of everyone and at this time of year you hope that the peace that comes either through religion or just being with the ones you love is enough. The world around us doesn’t play by these rules though and as we enter the last couple of weeks of the year we look around us and feel more removed from Peace and Goodwill than ever before.
We live in a world on the edge of something we’ve never been through before – certainly not my generation. The middle east is in a dangerous place with no-one very sure who is an ally and who is a foe. America is about to embark on an experimental four years with Donald Trump as their figurehead and with appointments confusing everyone on all sides of politics we wait and wonder at what will happen after the inauguration. Across Europe we all sit tense after the attacks in Berlin wondering where random acts of violence and terrorism stalk the street will next appear.
It’s difficult to see the best in others when they make rods for their own backs. Farage attacking Jo Cox’s widower and a group trying to stop hate campaigns, Katie Hopkins deciding who is a terrorist and who isn’t and Trump again deciding to use inappropriate language to talk about his fellow man. If we agree on doing one thing in 2017, it should be to stop giving these people the oxygen of publicity. Leave them to wallow in their own verbal effluence and not pollute our airwaves and media with it.
But then there are chinks of light in the darkness. A pile of handmade Christmas cards from first years, gifts from pupils and festive wishes. We live in a world that creates as many shadows as we allow, and perhaps if we need to remember anything it is that we have the capacity to shine lights where they are needed.
From those left behind in our own society to international issues like Aleppo maybe you and I should speak up more. Let’s join forces and point people’s attentions to issues and causes that deserve it. We tend to do it more at this time of year but loneliness among the elderly is all year round, homelessness isn’t a short-term issue, charities need money all year round – these things only get magnified at Christmas.
As do mental health issues. Of course there are increases in suicides and calls to Samaritans around this time of year but don’t forget that with mental health issues it can be a sunny Tuesday in July that is the day someone needs a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear. Every day people with bipolar, depression, anxiety and other conditions are just trying to get through their day. Be there for them or support organisations that can.
While it feels like we are living in a persistent valley of shadows remember to look up. Remember that where there are shadows there has to be a light source – seek it out and share it with others.
Merry Christmas to you and all you hold dear.