By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO —
This holiday season let us find some lasting meaning that will carry us to new heights of understanding, appreciation as we relate to our loved ones, our neighbors and the larger community of which we are a part.
Traditionally, the season begins with and culminates with the celebration of the dawn of a New Year. It is a time for shopping, feasting, partying and much merriment. For some, it is the most joyous time of the year, with all the decorations and holiday signs and one happy event after the other.
But, for some, it is the beginning of a stressful time, even depressive time, for any number of reasons. While many of us may be fortunate to be in a position to enjoy the holiday season and its trappings with family and friends, there are those who see little to celebrate and have even less with which to celebrate. For them, the holiday season only the beginning of a dreaded time – a season filled with reminders of families that were, wish lists that remain unfilled, and dreams that always seem beyond one’s reach. We must search for holiday seasons lasting meaning.
Too often, much of this “state of want” or “painful emptiness” has nothing to do with money or other material things. Rather, it has all to do with how one views life and his or her purpose in it. We too often let our well-being be determined by unimportant and fleeting things. Consequently, our sense of self-worth and the value we bring to those around us and the community of which we are a part get lost and we suffer immeasurably – in ways that are not always obvious.
If we take time to reflect on our world both near and afar, we all see the signs of the toll life styles and misplaced emphasis have taken on the human spirit. This year alone, we have witnessed plenty, unprecedented acts of violence by young and old alike, by the materially well off and the not-so-well off, by the sane and the not so sane. Unspeakable acts of violence in often what we thought were the most secure and sacred of places.
If we bothered to reflect on the state of the human condition in our supposedly advanced society during the past decade or two, we would have even more to be concerned about when we really look at the entire picture.
When we discover how little progress we truly have made in some of the most important areas that count, it should give us pause whether it is in the area of race relations, parenting, building healthy family units, eradicating hunger, the war on terror here in the United States and abroad, eliminating homelessness, reducing drug and substance abuse – the list goes on.
While we, as a nation, as a city, as a community, or as a family unit, undoubtedly have a lot to celebrate, we need to keep in mind how far we have yet to go in a number of areas to advance the overall well-being of humankind. Whether it is in our home, our neighborhood, our schools, or some other corner of our immediate or global community, all the scientific, technological and medical advances will not fix a down-trodden human spirit.
Perhaps this holiday season could serve as a source of rejuvenation, re-commitment to make things better for others – people and conditions we encounter every day. Holiday seasons lasting meaning is really the greatest gift to yourself and those around you.
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