… it’s yet another, “Reflecting on 2018 and Looking Ahead to a New Beginning,” post!
Not really. It’s yet another “perspectives” missive.
However, it was spawned from working on yet another same-old reflecting article…
A few days ago, I started looking for a image or two that might in some way help capture this crazy past year or, what may lie ahead. Fully expecting to use one of the thousands of pictures I’ve taken this year, somehow I wound up getting sucked into photojournalism shots scattered all over the web.
Winding up at National Geographic’s Most Compelling Photographs of 2018 page–which was indeed filled with compelling photos–I found myself particularly drawn into this image:
Those are Rohingya children struggling for food at a Balukhali refugee camp in southern Bangladesh.
Now I consider myself relatively bright, and in-touch with current events. I can point to Bangladesh on a globe, but I had no idea who the Rohingya were, or what a Balukhali was.
The Rohingya are a million-strong ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Over 700,000 of them have fled to refugee camps, like Balukhali in Bangaldesh. They are trying to escape mass rapes, killings, and genocide.
Bangladesh. One of the poorest, most densely populated countries in the world, opened their borders to the Rohingya in August. Now they are all overwhelmed and suffering.
Depressing, isn’t it?
My immediate reaction when I saw this image?
These people are so much worse off than I can possibly comprehend.
It’s gut-wrenching at times. Privacy prevents me from sharing any specifics of what I’ve seen, but I can say this — the visitors to this hotline can be in serious, life-impacting (and threatening) anger, distress, and confusion.
My immediate reaction when I saw these chats?
These people are in more pain than I can possibly comprehend.
These flashes of suffering seen through the Rohingya refugee children and some visitors to a sexual abuse hotline are two tiny glimpses of real pain, anguish and suffering. While I can’t speak for anyone but me, every so often things like this smack me upside the head with a giant dose of perspective.
Look around at what you see online.
A 24-hour news cycle bombards us from the left, right and middle. The media’s click-bait content constantly in our faces, almost physically screaming at us.
“Marketing gurus” and “life coaches” and “personal trainers” and “influencers.” Experts and advisors of every flavor constantly beat mantras into our head, their weapon of choice the Facebook, Google or banner ad that follows you all across the Internet.
People in “community groups” bicker and snap at others and complain incessantly about every and anything that may remotely impact their livelihood, perceived way of life, or what they’re having for dinner.
Meanwhile, there are 700,000 people on the other side of the world, facing starvation, disease and genocide. Just in the U.S., 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, anonymous users are queued up waiting to enter a chat room, hoping for any sort of help, understanding or empathy they can get after their world has been turned upside-down by rape, assault, incest, stalking, pedophilia, human trafficking.
That’s not just exhausting, that’s fucked up.
Not a call to save the world
I’m not publishing this to admonish anyone or guilt them into selling their worldly possessions and venturing off on a crusade to save the world. I’m a big fan of, “You Do You.” (As long as your You doesn’t get into my space, ya know?) But for the love of all the internet puppies and unicorns, for the sake of our collective conscious, how about just pausing for a moment. Really put your issues into perspective. *Think* before you act, stomp your feet, pout or whine.
I’m guilty. Shit, I get annoyed when it’s too cold and rainy to sail.
Think about that.
You’ve done it too.
- Mentally (or physically) giving that idiot driver the finger.
- Bitching when your team takes a dive in the big (or meaningless) game. Or doesn’t get invited to the Dance.
- Hatin’ on a website, or a competitor with a different business model or philosophy, or the weather. Hatin’ on anything — I mean, really?
- Politics? Don’t even get me started.
There is an endless list of possible things that drive you crazy, raise your blood pressure, make you want to slap someone, hurl your phone out the window.
Who needs any of that clutter, stress, anger, and bitterness in your life?
Sometimes, life sucks. It’s not fair. It hurts. But you are reading this, probably on a phone, maybe a tablet, at least a lap/desktop. It’s highly unlikely that you’re in a Bangladeshi refugee camp. (Sadly, there is a reasonable chance you are a victim of sexual assault, but hopefully you’re getting help with that.)
We can’t change or control some things. And let’s face it, none of us are going to save the world. It’s doubtful any of us will even change it, at least not by any significant level measured in the grand scheme of things.
But you sure as hell can make a significant impact on your life, and the life of your spouse, your partner, children, friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances. Maybe you can even make an impact on some random stranger by giving a little time, money, effort, or just encouragement and understanding to someone that’s hurting.
So do that. Focus on you, and those around you that matter. Look for the positives, minimize the negatives, the stress, the bullshit. Reach out and offer a hand, an ear, or a heart to someone that needs it.
Life can certainly deal us some really lousy cards, however it can also serve up amazing beauty, love, and fulfillment. Focus on the good, apply perspective to the bad. Take a deep breath. Recognize and enjoy all life offers.
2018 was pretty wild and crazy. Odds are overwhelming 2019 will be too–welcome to life. Embrace it. Live it.
Happy New Year folks. May you find good health, prosperity, and peace.