In the spirit of the holiday season and as 2012 draws to a close, I began to reflect on some of the things for which I am thankful, particularly in light of so much sadness and violence around the world.
I am thankful for living in a stable democratic country.
I am thankful for being engaged in interesting and meaningful work.
I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends.
I am thankful for the loyalty of my clients and the confidence they continually show me.
I am thankful for living in a community where I feel a sense of belonging.
I am thankful for the camaraderie and strong relationships with my work colleagues.
I am thankful for the love, understanding, and support from my life and business partner.
I am thankful for being me. I am a very lucky and fortunate person.
This reflection has led me to think about some of the things that I am less thankful for, such as living in a world where violence has become the evening news; where children are killed en masse by a crazed murderer; where the environment is taken for granted and we continue to dump toxins and garbage into our oceans, our air and our ground; where abuse of women and children continues seemingly unabated; where education and equality for girls and women is still an enormous challenge in many countries; where people who are ‘different’ in our country are bullied and marginalized; where animals are considered disposable; and where people are hungry and starving in our city, one of the most prosperous cities in the world.
There is so much to be thankful for and yet, at the same time, so much that is unacceptable and simply outrageous in the 21st century. This Christmas, we should all be thinking about how we can each make a difference, even in a small way to change the world. Margaret Mead, the great American anthropologist of the 20th century said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world”.
Witness Jenny Benson from Halifax, who is changing the world of one Ugandan girl at a time through her Aninga Project, an educational initiative that pays school fees for girls who would otherwise never receive an education (www.aningaproject.org). Or Riet Koetsier, who passed away just last month; she was the longest living volunteer at the Bide Awhile Animal Shelter, started by a small group of dedicated people in 1969, who couldn’t stand to see strayed and homeless cats starving to death on the streets (www.bideawhile.org). Or, Norman Greenberg who in the early 1990’s started Affirmative Ventures to help people with mental health and other disabilities gain economic independence www.affirmativeindustries.com), and now is leading the charge to bring a full-service grocery store back to the North End of Halifax (www.communitycarrot.coop).
There is much that needs changing and if you consider yourself as fortunate as I consider myself, then there should be nothing that stops any of us from grabbing hold of one thing that has the potential to change the world for even one person. How will you change the world in 2013?