At long last 2020 has arrived. Like every New Year, this one will also come with its lows and highs, challenges and opportunities. But before we get into the humdrum, let’s take a deep collective breath and resolve that we are all a nation that needs to continue to work together to bridge divides and respect each other so that we can get closer to the goal of creating a more tolerant society for a progressive and prosperous Pakistan.
New Year is a time to look back and look forward. It is a time to reflect on what we did and figure out how to improve on it because that is the key to evolving into better versions of ourselves. They say charity begins at home, so in order to bring big change we have to start small, at a personal level. 2020 and beyond, we can expect unprecedented situations along with some anticipated challenges. So how best to manage this and create a lasting impact?
First off, be brave enough to have coffee or tea with someone you disagree with. Not to argue or to agree but to listen and be heard. The name of the game here is mutual respect. Be willing to listen to others’ views and build good relationships with neighbours and other fellow citizens of all ages and demographic groups. This is hard, no doubt, but far more achievable than exercising every day in 2020.
Spend less time on social media. Even though it is a great way to connect with friends and loved ones, but it is no replacement for the connections to be made in real life. If you are going to engage in social media, make it as meaningful as possible. Avoid name-calling, embrace positivity and praise for others. If it is too contentious, just walk away and take a break from the screen.
Subject yourself to self-accountability. Judge your own choices and actions before you judge others for theirs. This will help you understand others’ motives and become more forgiving.
Respond to the best in other people rather than condemning them for those things about them that you don’t approve of or agree with. Since we are all human and imperfect, we can probably find something to not like in just about everyone, but why focus on that? Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Marcus Aurelius wrote this as a bit of advice to himself: “Persuade me or prove to me that I am mistaken in thought or deed, and I will gladly change — for it is the truth I seek, and the truth never harmed anyone. Harm comes from persisting in error and clinging to ignorance.” Question what you hear or read — even if it coincides with what you really want to be true. Check facts and work for accuracy. Ask: Who benefits from people believing this? Be especially diligent to fact-check items that seem to promote ill will toward anyone, or any group.
Volunteer! What better way to build community than to actively participate in it? Try to give generously of our time, talent and treasure to support a wide variety of worthy causes. Helping those in need will make you appreciate not only what you have but also create a ripple effect forging greater harmony in the society.
Cultivate generosity of spirit. Relax and let someone into traffic. Open the door for someone else. Greet strangers on the street, or at least give them a smile.
Lastly, lower your expectations of what the world owes you — of how much money you need to be happy or about how much stuff you should acquire and how much it should cost. Raise your expectations of how well you can live with less than what you consider your due.
All these things may be intended to benefit the world beyond self, but they will also benefit the individuals who do them — or double your money back! HH
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