The good news is that everyone reading this note has his or her prayers answered in that we are all still here. For that we can be grateful and, hopefully, we are not in terribly worse health than we were a year ago.
But the world around us has not fared as well. While the earth is still in one piece, pretty much, multiple cracks have developed.
There have been 9,976 earthquakes so far this year, with the latest last week in Morocco causing over 2,500 deaths. The number of major floods, or just plain disastrous floods in every part of the world has never happened since such records were being kept with last week’s catastrophic flood in Libya killing over 10,000 people.
Nearly 62,000 people died from record heat in Europe this past summer with average annual deaths from heat in the US up 95% since 2010. Arizona alone had 54 days of 43°C temperatures this summer setting an all-time record with August being the hottest month in the world since records have been kept.
Politically democracy is under threat in most “democratic” countries with autocrats and dictators worldwide seeming to grow stronger every day. And worst of all, it is now almost impossible for two people who disagree to have a respectful dialogue on the topic of the disagreement – which then spells disaster for humanity.
Given all of this, how do we find hope in a world so damaged? Most of the challenges above are not within our power to address directly. Given that, how do we look at things as we end one year and begin another?
How can we find hope?
A number of years ago in a holiday message I wrote the following: Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them: work, family, health, friends, and spirit, and you’re keeping all of them in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball that will bounce back if you drop it. But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.
All of us must understand that and strive for balance in our lives. Doing so will give us the fortitude to function in a world gone mad, again.
Here’s how we do that: Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.
Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.
Don’t take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as your life, for without them, life is meaningless.
Don’t let life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.
Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.
Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.
Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn to be brave.
Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it’s impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.
Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going.
Don’t forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
As the philosopher said, yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present.
Our prayers of last year have been answered, we who are here to read this were given another year of life. To be sure there were lots of things that happened this year that were disappointing, but there were many others that were outstanding. Be grateful for them!
Let us hope that the new year about to begin will be one blessed with life, health, a bit of peace and quiet here in Israel, and a renewed understanding of what is important, and what is not.
Shana tova umetuka – a good and sweet year to all.
The writer is CEO of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based business development consultancy, past national president of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel (AACI), and former board chair of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.