As a student, December is my most favourite time of the year. All my problems (read: studies) get put on hold until February and I have time to sit back and reflect on the year. However, this December, I find myself avoiding this reflection time because why would I want to possibly want to reflect on a year that seems to have taken everything from me emotionally, spiritually, financially and physically.
Nonetheless, with the copious amount of free time, I decided to reflect on 2016. Going through what has happened in the world, both locally and abroad, I realised the saddest thing. Despite globalisation bringing the world’s economies closer together, the world has never been more divided. In America and Britain, preaching hate and division won votes and led to history-making outcomes. In South Africa, division amongst the country’s leaders has caused parliament to become the most intense season of Survivor. Worst of all, the division in our opinions of the crisis in Syria has led to the lives of countless (literally) lives being lost for no good reason.
For the longest time, I would argue to the death to prove that my opinion on any of these topics was correct and I was so convinced that if the world thought like me, the political climate globally would improve. However, I have recently come to realise that the issue was not a difference of opinion. In fact, conflicting opinions can bring immense strength and solve problems in a highly effective way if managed correctly. The root cause of the division that we seem to be facing is not a difference in opinion, it is the absence of humanity that has become the standard of society.
If you backed Trump during the past US election because you feel Clinton actually didn’t do enough to campaign, I can understand that. Honestly, I would respect you so much if you could lay out an argument to counter my views and challenge my thinking. But if you can freely use the terms “build a wall” or “grab ’em by the …”, you need a heart check. And as a Christian, please inform me how hate and division line up with any of the teachings of Jesus. THIS is where the issue lies. As a society, we have become so obsessed with building our own empires and protecting our comfort zones that we could not care less about who we need to push down or marginalise to do so. This lack of empathy manifested itself into slogans and basis of campaigns. Open racism and hate speech is being justified with freedom of speech and offence and hurt is being blamed on a society that is “too sensitive”. So where do we go from here?
The problem at hand is not one that needs to be dealt with on a large scale. The solution starts with the man in the mirror (channels inner Michael Jackson). No side has their hands cleans when it comes to showing 100% compassion all the time. I love that Jesus emphasised “love thy neighbour” because truthfully, we all would stand to benefit from a society of individuals who love their neighbour as much as they loved themselves. Christian or not, this is a biblical principle that has no fault.
So, here’s how to conquer life after 2016. If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to show compassion. But go further than showing compassion to those in your inner circle. Sympathise with someone who hurt you, listen to understand someone who has a different opinion to yours, forgive where you won’t gain anything and above all, extend the act of love outside your comfort zone. Who knows, maybe if we grew in compassion 2017 might just atone for Harambe and all that we endured in 2016