Normally as the year draws to a close, I like to send out an inspiring happy message to my readers. This year, I would like to make an impassioned plea to all. The human brain is both a glorious and frightening thing. It gives us the ability to reason and make thoughtful decisions, but it also easily acts on emotion and makes quick, reactive decisions. As a result all human beings are capable of hate and violence. Whatever side of politics or issues we stand on, I plead that we take extra care with the way we express ourselves. I do not mean censorship or political correctness. By all means share your opinion, stand up for your beliefs, and disagree. But think about how you might express those same thoughts without hateful speech, name calling, or violent words or actions. Without some form of restraint, every person and every society is capable of descending into a sort of frenzy that doesn’t even represent their actual beliefs. I am seeing this with my own eyes daily. We must check ourselves and remain aware. Consider your social media posts and conversations. What options do you have for free expression without giving in to the baser part of the brain? How can you model civil disagreement for your children or for others? How can you stand up for what you believe in without potentially inciting violence against others?
As we welcome a new year, I hope that we can come back to what we have in common: our humanity. We can all play an active role in that goal. We can ask ourselves: What boundary might I cross to reach out to someone this coming year? How might I inspire another person or role model a behavior I would like to see in those around me?
When I founded Highroad in 2004, I always told myself that it would be a playscape, a joyous place where differences could be celebrated and I could authentically help people connect. I still feel that way, but in today’s world I also feel a profound responsibility to promote empathy and civility. I look forward to connecting with you in 2019 and beyond, as together we are a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Thank you for walking the Highroad with me. Happy holidays, and may there be peace on Earth.