Life

Life (in 2016) is Beautiful

Want a fun Christmas (or, really, any holiday) gift? You still have time to get “the Great Dumpster Fire of 2016 “ ornament (full disclosure: I don’t get any kickback from this creation, but it is done by a dear friend of mine). It’s a gestalt of the way a lot of people think about 2016, a year that seems to just keep hitting with more and more tragedies, regardless of your politics. Leonard Cohen AND Phyllis Schlafly AND Prince? Left, right, and off the spectrum, this was a year of tragedy and loss.

Aleppo, Syria is an indication that there’s no sign of it stopping, either. Take a moment to click on that link, please, because even if there’s nothing you can do about it, not being aware of it is negligent in and of itself.

Then take a deep breath. This is why the creator of that ornament described it as being “…real existential anguish about the state of humanity…a combination of despair, wine, tears and freeware.”

Suffering and Fear Pays the Bills

Of course, news media figured out a while back that the way to make some good money was to create a narrative of fear and imminent destruction. The “ethical” ones do this by paying attention to actual events; others, as we’ve found out to our dismay, are making quite a good living inventing the details of the narrative and presenting it as fact.

The good news is: we get to create our own narrative, too.

One more link I’m going to ask you to click on: Good Things That Happened in 2016. Reading that is a reminder of the Shakespearean adage: There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so. I’m not talking about individual events (I’m pretty sure that the Syrian civil war would have seemed pretty bad even to Shakespeare). But 2016, as a concept? Doesn’t have to be the dumpster fire. Here’s a few things from Helhatter’s blog post:

  • Pakistan has made strides toward outlawing honor killings
  • 70,000 Muslim clerics declared a fatwa against ISIS.
  • Pokemon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids.
  • California is now powering over 6 million homes with solar power, a record in the US
  • Volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in 24 hours.
  • Apparently world crime as a whole has drastically declined as a whole in the last couple of decades.
  • Coffee consumption has been proved to help curtail cancer and suicide rates.

All that in 2016. And that is just a tiny part of the list they made.

No Better Time for Gratitude

Amidst all the end-of-year OMG-THIS-IS-AWFUL talk, it’s worth it to reflect on the fact that the phrase “Life is Beautiful does not necessarily mean Life is Pleasant. Sometimes it is the bad things that also make it beautiful, as it either reminds us of the things we have or it gives us the opportunity to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.

Take a little time to make a list of what was good in your 2016. Things are there. You can find them. And reminding yourself of them is exactly the kind of gift you deserve this holiday season.

And a dumpster fire ornament. That too.

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