New Years Eve 2015
Tonight is a quiet night at our house. Mary made a lovely baked chicken breast dish I'd never seen before with sweet potato and a garnish of peppers from our garden. We watched a movie together, laughing happily. Mar is very very tired with the schedule she's been running and so she was snuggled up in bed by 10:30.
I watched Sky News for a bit- New Year's celebrations across the globe all colored by an awareness that there could be terrorist attacks from ISIL or similar folks. Security heavy everywhere and some scares as in Germany where Munich shut down the hautbahnhof and another station because of intelligence that suggested threats. The most devestating images, though, were those of the 60 plus story hotel in Dubai burning fiercely while the official fireworks display went off. Odd juxtaposition of imagery.
I'm looking ahead to this coming year. I'm very hopeful that it will be a grand year for me and for my family and friends. Not without challenges but with many opportunities to focus in more closely on the things that are most important to us. The things we hold close to our hearts.
In that mode, I have been mulling statements that I think express important truths for me, and I think for most everyone I know.
1) I could not do what I do successfully without the support of my family. I am sad for folks who aren't able to say this. My family---very broad tent of inclusion--anchor and revive me.
2) I have had challenges, know people who have challenges, and see people I don't know who have almost insurmountable challenges in their lives. We all share that reality---and we all are better able to face the reality when people around us show compassion because they know that they too need, deserve compassion. I remind myself that one of the most influential people to ever walk this planet urged everyone to be compassionate. always.
3) There are evil people in the world. This is not a new thing. The horrific images of ISIL beheading prisoners on camera aren't by far the worst tragedies that befell people around the world in this past year. Beheading isn't a new thing in the Middle East and Central Asia. It's also not a local thing. In the past couple of centuries, beheading was a way that Europeans made sure they were getting their money's worth in paying bounties. The change is that no one has made beheading a video staple anyone can watch or be horrified that people can watch. No matter what the government does or who is in charge, we will not rid the world of evil people nor become immune to their acts.
4) I've read headlines online and heard people say on the news that Americans are 'anxious' about the possibility of attacks against our people here in our country. I'm sure that some people worry about this. However, I think the truth for most Americans is that we go about our daily business with very little concern that a terrorist attack might intrude. I don't think that there might be a terrorist incident when I go shopping or cross a bridge or get on a train. I know it's possible, but also know that the likelihood I'd be affected in a population of nearly 400 million people is infinitesimally small. I'm not worried, but I really resent the people who try to fan that fear and anxiety to improve their media ratings or appear to have a magic formula to 'protect' everyone. That's a lie. Americans are more resolute than that.
5) I've also heard related assertions that there are 'terrorist cells' already in the US and planning to harm us. I'd say that's true. I'd say that's always been true and so it's not new news nor is it a reason to be panicked. Go back to point 4. There is no person aspiring to lead this country who can change that reality--if they say they can they're lying. We will be attacked by terrorists--domestic as well as foreign-- and there isn't anything that can change that reality. We can minimize the risk, but at some point I'm not willing to spend my life walking around with a flak jacket and helmet to avoid the risk. Refer to #4
6) What qualities and characteristics are likely to lead to a long and happy life? Generosity of spirit--giving and helping others even if they haven't earned it--is a way to make our own lives happier and healthier. Anyone who's a grandparent knows about giving and helping others who haven't earned it. No mystery here. It applies to all sorts of people if we refer to #1. Curiosity is a good trait; life never gets dull and boring if you are enchanted to figure out something you don't understand. Flexibility, physical and mental, is a wonderful characteristic. If you can drink tea instead of coffee sometimes, play cards instead of watching tv, go for a long walk instead of running on the treadmill, you are likely to be happier. Recognize pleasure and beauty in small things around you. Finding that sense of wonder, savoring that taste, listening to that sound, humming that tune--small things can bring great satisfaction if we recognize their value. I don't know that I'd have lasting pleasure if someone gave me a Mercedes but I do have lasting pleasure when I pull out the shoeshine box that belonged to my dad and buff my shoes--a rare occurrence--but one I treasure.
I keep these things close at hand as I go through life. And I welcome 2016.