As 2019 winds down, so does the decade that began in 2010. In ways, it seems we have gone backward rather than forward. Teen mental health concerns have proliferated. Mass shootings aren’t even headlines. The political arena is more divisive than ever. And that is just in our country. Globally, diversity and differences are embraced in some places, made the focus of warfare in others. Our planet’s environment is showing more and more signs of the peril humanity is causing it.

There is injustice, disconnect, apathy and outright cruelty. It can leave us overwhelmed and outraged, as well as feeling powerless. Empathy and energy are lacking and we are left asking ourselves and one another “What is there to do?”

The answer is plenty. Think small and act today. Fear and blame can paralyze us, or hope and helpful actions can start the healing. There is still far more positive in the world than negative, if we but look for it and contribute to it. How can we each contribute to the positive stream?

Be kind more and judge less. Look one another in the eye. Hold the door open. Smile. Say thank you. Notice the good. Recycle. Appreciate nature. Lend a hand and lift spirits. Give of what you have. Start at home and carry it forward into your day. Be grateful for the generosity of our planet and of one another. Living gratefully focuses on the solutions. Ask yourself as you move through the day, am I part of the problem or part of the solution?

If you want to join others in this growing conversation of hope and action, please come to the next Rivertown Gratefulness Gathering at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Pleasant Hill Library. This month’s theme is “Healing a Hurting World.” Gatherings are free and open to the public. For more information, contact local host Lisa Valentine at gratefulnessgatheringsmn@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

Lisa Valentine

Hastings