Thursday, December 17, 2015

End of a Surreal Year

Earthquakes, floods, landslides, political messiness... Three very dear women taken from us... two so suddenly that it left most of us gasping... And yet, I now have a permanent visa, we have a permanent home in a lovely city, and as the year ends, our son is about to present us with a grandchild.

I am even more confirmed that all of us are afraid, afraid for our lives, afraid for our fragile and corrupt crumbling environments and infrastructures, and the political and social institutions that seem to be incapable of resolving the problems that threaten to engulf us all. So many are afraid that we are loosing the gains that we worked so hard to achieve. I see that. 

And yet...

And yet, I see so many people rising out of this morass... Most notably, my team in Nepal, they lost hundreds of friends, neighbors, family members and colleagues and yet are thriving... producing research, checking in every day or so... all of this when the political situation there is impossible. I see my students, colleagues and family members here in Brasil that despite the rancor, and hateful dialogue, hug you, reach out, open the door, say hello... I am grateful to my amigos in the States who check in and share their jokes and love. I am deeply grateful and honored to call you all friends, family, amigos!

What these trips and living abroad have shown us is how now more than ever, just how very fragile everything is, and yet at the same time, this fragility gives us the opportunity to see in people we meet, such grace, such talent, such strength, such light!  I am absolutely sure that we are all one people. That we have so much, much, much more in common than what we perceive, as are our curious differences. 

This year, more than ever, has shown us just how fragile things are, yet it is this light, that seems to shine in each one of us, that allows us to give our humanity a chance. It is the hundred little simple things we can all do to fight back, to not give into the darkness, that gives us our humanity... opening a door, picking up some liter, greeting your neighbors, showing up on time, giving a seat to someone else on the bus, saying hello and smiling to everyone... 

This is one of the best forms of protest, and the best way I know that keeps the darkness at bay.  Each small act can and will become a butterfly effect…

Daniel Orey, Ph.D.

Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais

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