Friday, December 22, 2017

Some End Of Year Thoughts

By Forest Puha


It’s been a long, eventful, tragic, harrowing, and beautiful year for many people across the world. Natural and man-made disasters have touched every country; whether environmental, financial, military or any other way, the chaos is real. The climate is changing, the days are warmer and the weather is crazier than we’re used to. People are losing their homes and living on the streets or as nomads in record rates. Animals of all kinds are becoming endangered and extinct. Prices keep going up. Outside relief is unlikely to happen quick enough or largely enough for people to feel calm again.

My family and I celebrate the vaguely Christian version of Christmas every year. If you haven’t heard the story behind the holiday then here’s a very abbreviated, non-religious summary:

A long time ago, a man and a very pregnant woman were traveling from town to town, and nobody had any spare room for them to sleep in. They were dirt poor and desperate, and the owner of a local inn grudgingly told them to sleep out in the barn because it was free. She gave birth in the barn to a son. The son would grow up to be an influential man, and so the holiday is nominally named for him.

In part because the son grew up in such horrible conditions, the son would later preach and practice tolerance and giving help to poor people, however you could, wherever you were. The son would tell you that they were not the enemy, they were not the boogieman, but they were your friends and neighbors, your brothers and sisters. To help them, honestly, is to help yourself. It makes you feel better, it makes you holy.

This year has been a long one for many people. The stress builds up until people can’t handle it anymore and they freak out. I’ve found that the best way to fight that, to remove the stress and clear your mind and get a handle on everything, is to help others. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or an expensive one if you can’t afford it. Simply offering a kind word to strangers on the internet, or knowing your friends’ troubles and helping them with a couple of them, or buy them an extra thing they can’t afford, or just hug them. If your friends and family and loved ones don’t have any place to stay, offer them your living room couch or floor. Forget the ego, your ego telling you that what you have to give isn’t very much at all and looks pitiful and isn’t worthy. Yes, it is. An influential man was born in the hay and the dirt of a barn in the backyard of an inn, and it was more than good enough for him. It made him into a better person.

Even when it’s not Christmas, say in January or March or July, give comfort and aid and solace. Inner calm is something that when provided for other people, ends up paying off dividends to you. We all need this example more than ever to face the future together.

Hau'oli Lanui, aloha kakou.