*This piece originally appeared in The Huffington Post
The end of the year is always bittersweet. It’s a time where many usually look back on the last 12 months and reflect on all they’ve accomplished (or not). For some it is a time of relief as they can release all of the funk and bad juju of the year, and for others it is another opportunity to look ahead and start over. I’ve been having a ton of mixed feelings about this past year. I’ve grown as a person, both professionally and personally, but the most critical revelation of the year for me is I discovered I am a social justice activist, a label that I never claimed before.
Between the Presidential election, the financial crisis in Puerto Rico, the killings of unarmed people of color, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the humanitarian crisis in the Syrian town of Aleppo I found myself more involved and more vocal on domestic and international issues than I’d ever been. Despite all my personal achievements, this year I found there’s so much going on in the world at large and there’s always so much more of ourselves we can give.
I found myself on the front lines of protest marches . I found myself making calls to my local senators and elected officials in protest of Trump’s selection of certain cabinet members. I was writing articles and gathering resources where others could do the same in their states. As an anti-Trump critic I became extremely vocal and passionate about the Presidential election, often times bumping heads and engaging in heated arguments with my father, a self-proclaimed Trump supporter. I was fist pumping, yelling, and hash tagging #staywoke all across my social media platforms. This past year has ignited a fire in me I didn’t realize I had.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or because I have two young children, but the state of the world matters significantly more to me now. It matters to me the legacy I leave behind for my children and for their children (when that time comes). I understand we are responsible now for creating the world of the future which is why I think I’ve become extremely passionate about so many issues. I can’t sit back and leave the work to someone else. None of us can. We each are responsible for the state of this world through our actions and through what we contribute.
In recent weeks we have been bombarded with the massacre of human lives happening in Aleppo and as I sit in the safety of my office writing this article my heart breaks knowing that somewhere in that city there is a child alone, who has been separated from his/her family, possibly hiding, and frightened to death of being killed. I think about that and it breaks me to pieces because this cannot be the world we live in. With all that I would like to do to help, I feel helpless and hopeless. I think about my own children and how grateful I am that although the United States has its own issues we live in a country where bombings in the streets isn’t part of our everyday reality. It’s recognizing this privilege that inspires me to do more. I think we all should be doing more.
Though our Presidential election seemed to further divide our country I really believe this world is at a point in history where we can no longer be divided, but instead try to find some common ground for the sake of all humanity. If we continue to only act in selfish and opportunistic ways we will find ourselves left with very little hope, very little faith, and not much of a global future. For 2017, I commit to be louder, bolder, and a champion for unity and change. You should too.