First, I wanted to say how much I appreciate the articulate and insightful comments so many of you have offered recently on our various topics. The detail and nuance in your perspectives is highly valued. Please continue to read, think, and engage with passion and civility.
Second, I wanted to say a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who sent their best wishes via email and through the blog. My wife and I greatly appreciate your good thoughts. This period of time has been ‘complicated’, as my Parisian friends like to say, and your kind words were very welcome.
And on we go to 2021…
“Of course 2021 is going to be better than 2020,” said an American friend of mine recently. “You can’t fall out of a well.”
Very true, but I have more optimism than that. Challenges always bring out the best in some people. I personally know of a dozen instances within my personal circle of friends and acquaintances in which people have reached out, without being asked, and offered cash, food, work, shelter–the tangibles of human compassion–to family members, friends, and complete strangers.
When I consider these selfless acts, I realize something: empathy is part of what it is to be human. The opportunity to give and share in a time of need is instinctive. When it is done spontaneously, it is inspiring. As an Egyptian friend of mine once said, “People think I give in order to make others feel good. I don’t. I’m selfish. I give to make me feel good.”
And feeling good it is. Scientists tell us that endorphins are released when a person does something generous. Not only to both the giver and receiver get a boost of joy-inducing chemicals: even people who only observe a compassionate act have the same reaction. Being kind is good for us, emotionally, morally, and physically.
So while this virus may have put a pinch on our ability to gather and give gifts this past holiday season, the opportunities to help those less fortunate than ourselves have only increased. Those opportunities, I must admit, will probably extend into 2021 as we bootstrap ourselves out of this health & economic crisis.
Not only has the pandemic given people the opportunity to help others. It’s also given countries the opportunity to express their gratitude, as you’ll see in the article from The Local – France below.
Enjoy, and be safe.