By Mehrunnisa Yusuf
On the last day of twenty-fifteen, I was mulling over my final despatch of the year. This annual practice has been in place since two thousand and nine. In one sense it is as familiar as the end of the year editions of news and print.
December is as much the month of looking backward as it is forward. This is inherent in the proliferation of articles, lists and notes on the year in review. I have my particular favourites like Popova’s the best of Brain Pickings. In addition, I have a virtual collection of articles of note as well as lines and phrases scribbled in notebooks. I find this to be an extension of dog-eared pages in much loved books. It is a way to capture words and visuals that inspire. The one that resonated with me the most this year was a New York Times Editorial titled Moments of Grace in a Grim Year.
The last few lines of the editorial read: ‘Evil is everywhere, and anger and hatred are loud. The shouting drowns out the quiet; tragedy and disaster block the view of the good. Yet there are always signs of progress toward a better future. Look, or you may miss them.’ It is a truism that evil and hatred have assertive personalities. They are greatly visible unlike the little acts of kindness that are so much a part of our daily lives. We have to be reminded time and again to ‘look’ for the things that give us happiness; like the generosity of spirit of human beings or the resilience of those who have been through great adversity [see the 144 Stories from the Peshawar massacre one year on].
Omair and I were in Istanbul last week, a city that is a living reminder of the possibility of cultural crossroads. It is a place where Asia and Europe came together leaving a legacy of arts, culture and architecture. At Ayasofya, two great monotheist traditions are superseded by secularism. The latter is an expression of tolerance; a value that is very dear and most under threat in our times. Many of the terrible events of this year are an expression of intolerance for each others differences. There are few nations or individuals in the world who have not been touched by grief and sorrow from the ideologies that are unable to accommodate our individualism. But most of all intolerance undermines our shared humanity.
Many of you will know that I have a ‘to be’ list; a wonderful tradition initiated by Lisa Sanfilippo. Every year, I choose attributes that I would like more of and so I want 2016 to embody tolerance.
Whatever your resolve for 2016, I wish you the best and hope that it comes true.
All my love and warmest wishes for the year ahead!