Onward & upward to a new year.
2021 ended very differently than many of us would have imagined or hoped. At the end of 2020, I felt compelled to reflect upon a year of tumult, which exposed many issues that had long been concealed in plain sight. Now, with all of 2022 ahead, rather than look back, I am urged to look forward. Of course, in order to appreciate where you are going, you must first understand where you have been.
The pandemic continues to upend many of our plans, hopes, and dreams. Covid, which has become a pervasive presence, begs the question, how do we coexist with chaos and uncertainty? Perhaps we always have, but just weren’t aware that is what we were doing.
Anxiety has become embedded into the fabric of everyday life. It seems a rarity to encounter someone who doesn’t feel the weight of the times we are living through– enduring health ailments, economic hardship, educational disruption, social media mayhem, and ongoing injustices. All of these issues necessitate our attention and a voice.
Too often, life’s demands are never-ending with few opportunities to pause and recharge. The incessant grind implores us to evaluate our obligations and what we are willing to do to meet these commitments. There is continued polarization, with multiple versions and interpretations of the same story. Many are in opposition to each other, fomenting an incendiary divide and furthering stress that is imbuing our ethos. We have borne witness to the devastation that emerges from flippancy. The earth is speaking to us, proclaiming its fury and force with perilous maladies and precarious weather patterns. These afflictions can have irrevocable consequences.
The current circumstances are an omnipresent reminder of the interconnectedness of the world. If there are any lessons to be learned in a post-pandemic world, it is that the problems of one can quickly multiply and become the problems of everyone. If societies overlook issues regarded as belonging to others, those issues will soon envelope the greater environment. Entitlement can obstruct evolution while empathy advances it. If we fail to heed the adversities around us, we risk becoming a culture engulfed in disjunction. Compassion is an essential ingredient to cultivating a thoughtful ecosystem.
People will continue to differ in opinions and there will always be disputes; the goal doesn’t have to be agreement, but it should always be respect. When we attempt to hear the other side, we may very well still disagree, but we come away with virtues of understanding and dignity.
Because of the interminable strain that has been foisted upon us, we must be mindful about taking good care. In 2019 Mental Health Missions had a feature piece about the importance of self-care. We must be prudent about caring for ourselves, for others, and for the planet. Mental Health Missions has always sought to reduce the stigma and elevate conversations about mental health. Over the past two years, there have been endless opportunities to engage in such discussions. Whether directly or indirectly, mental health affects everyone. We are still living through the pandemic and contemporaneously, experiencing some of the greatest mental health challenges in history.
As we continue to navigate these vexing times, I am reminded that people are strong and resilient, which offers hope as we proceed onward. May we all have the opportunity to live in a compassionate and kind world. Wishing you prosperous health and mental health today and throughout this new year.