Looking Back and Looking Forward

Turned a cube, symbolize the change from 2021 to the new year 2022.

This is the time of year where you hear all the reflections on the past year and look forward to what is to come in the new year. For most of us COVID still dominates our thoughts in both categories as to its pervasive and prevalent impact on so many levels in all our lives.

However, as I look back through the year and reflect on all that has happened and the current climate of our country, I have seen the permeating effects of polarization. As I have spoken to a number of co-workers, family members, parents, kids, church leaders, organizational leaders and almost anyone, I have consistently heard anger, frustration, apathy and so many divides in a time in our history where we need to be more connected and aligned than ever before. 

Particularly when I hear that families are so divided that they cannot even gather for the holidays without dreading the discussions, arguments and angry outbursts that are divisive and make it difficult to have any degree of healthy relationships. It is both alarming and sad that family members who need each other will sacrifice the emotional health of their family for a political, public health or religious controversy. This has had a negative impact on our kids and they too are learning a level of uncivility that is disheartening.

We have just had a season where we reflected on Peace on Earth. As I look to our next year it is my sincere hope and wish that we could find peace in our land. That environment does not occur naturally. It requires that peace will become a core belief that we are willing to lay aside our agendas and fears. Peace is a stabilizing force in our lives that appears to be getting quite scarce. As a society, we desperately need to reestablish an agenda of peace in our families, communities, politics and in our public health.

I have to add that peace is not just an aura but a result of individuals who are peacemakers. That means work, sacrifice, discussion, acceptance of each other, respect and a willingness to dialogue with active listening and positive communication. Even disagreements are possible without judgement and shaming or insulting one another. The spirit of democracy is that we are always able to honor those who hold differing opinions. This synergy is what has made our country strong.  Polarization makes us vulnerable, weak and unable to hear and influence each other.

So my wish as we move into the new year is for peacemaking. I long for our leaders to come together, have meaningful dialogue, work at the things that are important and take care of our families, our communities and our country. Looking back has some frightening realities. It is my hope that we can all look forward with anticipation of a country that can hear, understand and bring healing and resolve from the strife and stressors that we are facing as a country.

Gerry Vassar


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