This is The Mustang‘s 400th article, coming out about a week after our two year anniversary. I really should have timed things better. I’ve mulled over a lot of ideas for this article, first choosing to discuss what made 2016 such a bad year and later deciding to write about the holidays instead. Neither idea panned out, since the former simply depressed me and the latter just felt hollow. I’m not the biggest holiday guy, to be perfectly honest. This doesn’t mean I’m a Scrooge or anything, in fact I’m reasonably certain that there won’t be any spirits visiting me on Christmas eve. (At least, I hope not.) However, while others are wrapping presents and buying their Jack Daniels and egg nog, I prefer to use the time of holiday break to relax and not worry about the daunting tasks of essays and homework.
As I said previously, I wanted to originally write about 2016 and all of the horrors that went on, and continue to go on, throughout the year. This hasn’t been a very easy year for anyone, with not only a brutal and divisive election, but also the gross amount violence that has shaped the year, whether it was the Orlando night club shooting, the anti-Trump protests or the ever increasing amount gun violence. It isn’t too much of a stretch to say that Hate has defined this year. On a personal note, many people close to me have also had to deal with their own trials and tribulations which has made the year rough on them as well. I ultimately decided not to waste our 400th article on this. I didn’t want to use this opportunity to focus on the negatives.
When I turned my attention to the holidays and made the decision to write a list about what I enjoyed about them, I found that many of the things I thought about were things that are done with family and loved ones. Whether it’s listening to your girlfriend’s mother, grandmother and aunts laugh and gossip while making tamales or watching It’s A Wonderful Life with your own parents and two brothers, this is a time of year that is meant to be spent with loved ones.
So instead of racking my brain to determine whether I enjoyed sleeping in more than I did eating tamales, I decided that the best message is this: wherever you are, stop reading this. Close this article, log off Facebook if that’s where you’ve seen it, and spend this time with your loved ones. Whether you’re spending it with your parents, your extended family, your spouse and children, or your friends, enjoy this time. In a year that has been so defined by hatred and violence, we shouldn’t let it spoil this time of love and peace. More importantly, extend this love toward those around you. Embrace what’s common about you and more importantly, embrace and understand your differences. It’s the only way to make the world a better place.
Does this mean that we ignore current events? No, of course not. There are still injustices in this world, with the recent Standing Rock protests and the Aleppo genocide happening right now. The world has become a messed up place, filled with violence, injustice and worst of all, hatred. Perhaps it always has been. However, this is a time of love and peace, which is usually spent with our friends and family, and perhaps we can extend this towards all of our fellow man with the start of the new year. Perhaps we can spend this next year fighting back against the negativity that this one has brought. It may not change the world right away, but if we can simply start treating each other better, we can at least make a little progress.
The only way to counteract hate is with love and understanding; by reaching out to others and understanding another’s point of view and reacting to different ideas not with outright disgust and rejection, but with balance and reason. 2016 has been a year of divisions, with both the controversial “Black Lives Matter” movement and with the 2016 election, which saw the much-despised Donald Trump take office. To paraphrase the Dali Lama, the best way to end altercations is with understanding. One side has to stop fighting and consider the other’s point of view. For example: Law enforcement officers are heroes, who put their lives on the line for us, but unfortunately some of them are guilty of corruption and abusing their authority. Not to mention the Another example: Donald Trump is in no way the best candidate for president, who won on a campaign based on xenophobia, but ultimately some of his ideas are actually good and could help our country substantially.
If 2016 was a divisive year, then 2017 needs to be one of unity. We have an obligation to ensure that world becomes a better place, having been exposed to how terrible things are this year. The only way to accomplish this, as cliche as it sounds, is through peace, love and understanding. If 2016 is “the worst year ever,” then it’s on us to make the next year a better one.
Happy Holidays everyone! Here’s to making the next year a good one!