As I sit at my computer to write this column, it is the first day of the new year.
The sun is pouring down from a blue sky and there is a fresh coat of clean white snow covering everything outside.
When I was out for my daily run this morning, there was barely a breath of wind, the cold brisk air was invigorating and everyone I met along the way shared a smile and a wish for a happy new year.
I am feeling revitalized with a renewed sense of hope as I contemplate the year ahead and reflect back on 2017 and the many ups and downs that have occurred over the past 365 days.
While I am not one who makes new year’s resolutions, I am thinking that the world in which we live would definitely benefit from working toward at least one goal this year.
If I could wish for one new year’s resolution for the world in 2018, it would be for people to commit to being more balanced in how we relate to one another and the world around us.
It seems clear from looking back on the previous year that many things are completely out of whack and the way that we are approaching this is making things worse instead of better. People have become increasingly polarized in their beliefs and opinions with little room left for any middle ground which has led to decreased tolerance and respect for those who believe differently.
This imbalance can be seen in many aspects of our society. The way that wealth is distributed in the world is getting more uneven as the richest become richer while the numbers of poor grow greater and the gap between them grows wider.
Religious differences are becoming more pronounced with some groups at war and even places where religious differences are respected and protected — such as North America and Europe — have seen an increase in movements that have built their power on anti-immigrant policies, much of which is based on religious intolerance. Our planet itself appears to be expressing its imbalance with increasingly severe weather conditions, swings in temperature from scorching hot to freezing cold and incidences of either lack of rainfall or tremendous downpours.
We need to find a better balance between the extremes; there’s a reason why people react so strongly to the term “extremism” yet we are reluctant to recognize and challenge the extremes that exist within our own society.
There’s nothing wrong with aspiring for wealth but when it is done to the extent it is now, we are creating serious social issues among those who are unable to take part in prosperity. It’s okay to hold strongly to your religious beliefs but that doesn’t mean everyone else in the world has to share them; there’s room for all to believe as they choose.
It is acceptable to have economic growth and to protect our economies; however, if we don’t accept and commit to addressing the climate change that is happening on this planet, there won’t be much left for the next generation on which to build an economy.
If we were to truly embrace the value of balance, we could learn that no one group, nation, belief system or religion has all of the answers and that each has something to contribute to the whole. It isn’t a case of right vs left, East vs. West, Christian vs. Muslim, Communist vs. Capitalist or any of the other opposing groups or philosophies that come into conflict in this world, that will lead us successfully into the future.
It is the fairer balancing of all of humanity that will lead to a more stable future for our planet.
What remains to be seen is if there are enough of us with the will and commitment to ensure that we find this balance before the world becomes irreversibly off-kilter. In your own way and in your own lives, I wish you all a happy and balanced new year.
Brian Hodder is an LGBTQ2 activist and works in the field of mental health and addictions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.