By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli
It’s hard to believe another new year is unfolding. The world has never been so close to another world war as we are right now. There is social unrest everywhere.
In our own country we have not seen such social outrage and protests since the civil rights days of the 1960s. Universal health care, racial harmony, respectful tolerance for social differences at every level, renewed respect for the courageous men and women in law enforcement and public service as well as aggressively investing energy on affordable housing for the poor and immigration reform that respects the human dignity of every human being; these are some of the issues that must be at the top of our social agenda for the New Year 2016.
As challenging as this incomplete social agenda might be, I have renewed hope that our present generation of young leaders who are working in the trenches at this present moment are aggressively working for peace and justice without war or violence. I believe they believe in respecting every human being no matter what his or her social, political, religious or human circumstance as valued human beings.
We are fortunate that we live in an extraordinary community. For more than three decades, I have seen firsthand the depth of people’s compassion and care for others especially for the poor and wounded among us. I have been privileged to see the miracles that change and transform people’s lives.
Everyday people in our community who are hurting are healed and supported because of local neighbors’ courage and bravery to reach out and touch their lives, even if it means moving out of one’s comfort zone. It’s easy to pay lip service to compassion and care and still justify doing nothing. So many people quietly do so much for so many in need. Their acts of kindness and compassion are inspirational.
Taking into account our present social landscape as we begin the New Year 2016, I would like to make the following recommendations for all of us to consider working on:
■ Let’s work harder on building bridges instead of walls in our human relationships. The world is overburdened with walls and has too few bridges.
■ Let’s try to eliminate judging others and putting people into sterile boxes. Rather, let’s work harder at empowering one another to be the best that we can be, accepting all people for who they are.
■ Let’s replace destructive criticism and cynicism with heartfelt random acts of kindness and caring.
■ Let’s try to revive dreaming; a single dream can launch the journey of a lifetime!
■ Finally let’s take the whole year to aggressively work on healing our fractured and/or estranged human relationships that need love — before it’s too late.
As the New Year unfolds, let us not forget that each and every one of us possess the profound ability to make a difference in our world that counts. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away!
Fr. Pizzarelli is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.