Tonight, for some reason, I was wasting time online (instead of writing my novel) and I decided to look at Rueter's images of the year. Initially, I just thought that the pictures would be a collection of some of the most beautiful and striking scenes/people taken this year. I wasn't wrong, but I did not take into consideration the utter destruction, mass chaos, wars, refugees and natural disasters of the past year. The pictures were both horrifying and humorous. From the picture of a frog riding a small motorcycle to children crouched in horrendous living conditions and bathing in putrid water the pictures never failed to astonish me.
Although I teach world history and ready history books all the time, nights like this remind me of about how little I know and about how little I am teaching my students. Often times I complain about how many things are going wrong with my life until I realize that I have never feared for my life, watched a family member gunned down, lived through a natural disaster, or been forced to starve.
We live in a big, messed up world that is sometimes tragic, but can also be overwhelmingly beautiful. There are hundreds of countries, languages, religions and ideas that I know nothing about - but with our wonderful modern technology I can know what happens in Kenya, Thailand, Romania or Qatar.
This Christmas season is not like others I have remembered in years past. I have friends who are dealing with the devasting illness of family members, relatives forced to make difficult decisions about employment and a job that never gets any easier; however, it is imperative that I look at what Christmas means. Not in the commercial "what will I buy my brother" way, but in the true message of hope, peace and love.
It is never going to get any prettier out there, but it is up to me to find beauty every day even if it isn't obvious.