It’s the end of the year and we often find ourselves asking questions asked in recent years past; “Will this pandemic ever end?”  “Will the political fighting get worse?”  “Will we experience more severe climate change?” “Will we see more racism?”  “More violence?”  “More hatred?”

It isn’t difficult to argue that the last few years have seemed a bit overwhelming.  Some of us have experienced more than a few sleepless nights wondering if things will ever get better.

I would be lying if I did not admit that I have personally, felt anger and discouragement.  Sometimes it seems that I am hit hard with violent images and hateful speech every time I look at my phone or tablet.  A simple scroll can lead me down a road of sadness and disheartenment.

In just the past year, I have witnessed political figures continue to encourage violence and insurrection.  I have seen government officials deny science and propel conspiracy theories with no basis in reality. I have observed laws being passed that unapologetically discriminate and deny basic human rights.  I have seen people in leadership roles inspiring others to be hateful and harmful.

As the world struggles to contain a pandemic and we continue to be warned by experts to take precautions, not just for ourselves, but for others, I have seen heartbreaking behaviors.  I have been in places where people refuse to comply with mask requirements, putting others at risk.  I have seen people fighting in stores, on planes, and in restaurants.  In a time when we are all being called to help our neighbors and communities, I have witnessed overwhelming displays of self-centeredness.

In just the past year, I have viewed, acts of racism and bigotry.  I have seen continued agendas promoting hatred toward others.  I have seen violent people hailed as heroes while innocent people are labeled terrorists.

I have seen the rights of women continue to be challenged and stifled.  I have read stories of continued sexism, suppression, and abuse.

I have seen people reviled, pushed out, and wounded just because of who they love or how they identify.  I have observed people in great pain, just because they desire to be their honest selves.

I have seen the care of our world and its living beings, fought over and denied.  I have heard our responsibilities to our planet called out as too expensive, inconvenient, and non-existent.

I have also witnessed leaders of religion, worshiping politicians over Christ.  I have seen pastors display abhorrence over kindness.  Hatred over love.  I have heard sermons calling people to fight and hate, even as Christ calls us all to love.

I have witnessed selfishness, greed, lust, bullying, hatefulness, violence… and so much more.

A scroll through many of the events in the last year leaves me with strong feelings of sorrow and rage.

But that is exactly why I remain hopeful and even encouraged.

When I observe hurtful acts like these, I feel something.  And I know others do too. The fact that we feel anger and sadness when others are being harmed or disrespected ensures me that humanity still has hope.

As long as there will continue to be acts of hate in our world, I am convinced there will continue to be acts of kindness.

Our ability to identify events and actions that are harmful gives us the power to continue to help people that have been harmed.  When we see people hurting, we can be part of their healing.

It would really be terrible if I saw someone being bullied and could not recognize it.  It would be sad if we were not able to recognize things like bigotry, suppression, greed, self-centeredness or harm.

But I do see it.  And I am unable to excuse it or ignore it.

So often, when I feel overwhelmed by the harm being done in our world, I find myself praying to God.  And so often, in prayer, I hear God say, “What will You be doing about it?”

What am I doing about it?

Have I done more to help my neighbors? My community?  My world?  Have I stood up for the bullied?  Have I fought for the suppressed?  Have I thought of the needs of others?  Have I accepted?  Welcomed? Respected? Loved?  In the past year, when I have witnessed the ugliness of this world, have I done what I can do to promote the beauty?

When we see the hateful things that make us angry and sad, we can do something about it.

Our ability to recognize harmful things gives us the aptitude to also recognize things that help. We all have the ability to counter the things in our world that cause us harm.

We can fight selfishness with selflessness.  Greed with charity.  Egotism with humility. Suppression with invitation.  Bigotry with openness.  Harmfulness with helpfulness.  Cruelty with kindness.  Conspiracies with facts.

Since the beginning of time, people have caused harm to others.  We will always be aware of it and we will always feel something from it.  Take comfort in those feelings.  They are a gift that can help us see the difference between good and bad.  A gift that allows us empathy.  To see beyond ourselves.  A gift encouraging us to fight hate with love.

May we keep feeling.  May we keep helping.  May we keep healing.