What a year it has been!

By Nina Steele 

Happy New YearAs 2016 comes to a close, most of us will inevitably be looking back at everything that happened and hope as usual that the New Year turns out to be better than the one just passed. The beauty of the human spirit, I find, is that regardless of how bad things are in reality, we always hope for better days ahead. Whichever side of the argument you are on in terms of politics or overall views on life, I think the one thing we can all agree on, is that this year has been pretty eventful. The world as we knew it is rapidly changing, and everyone has been forced to have serious conversations about some issues within society that until now, were only mentioned occasionally. Whether most people like it or not, being on the sideline is no longer an option.

As I am sure you’ve already guessed, I have always been quite vocal about all the going-ons in society. I vote in elections because I strongly believe that there is no point complaining about issues, and then not bothering to vote. We all have the potential to bring about change, and one way of achieving that is by exercising our right to vote. Of course voting does not guarantee that the things you want happen will happen, but at least, you would have sent a message to policy makers about where your political views lie.

We all have a role to play in society. It doesn’t have to be as visible as being a public figure. Often, I hear people talk about society as if it was someone else’s problem. Society is every single one of us. If we want a better society then we have to be better people ourselves. We cannot go on social media complaining about society yet have poor values ourselves. As the great Mahatma Gandhi said: “be the change that you want to see in the world”.

Wishing for next year to be a better year is great, but change does not happen through wishes alone. Real action is what will ultimately bring about that change. There is absolutely no denying that right now, it looks as though as a species, we have lost our way. We are one people yet, hate is all around for us to see. Demonising people just because they are different seems to be acceptable. But of course what we often seem to forget is that in spite of what we see on the news and all those dreadful videos that do the rounds online, there is more good in the world than bad. The majority of people are intrinsically good. Most people are generally trying to be the best they can be.

Together, we can make 2017 a better year. A good start would be to not demonise people who are different to us, or who holds different views. I myself have to keep reminding myself this. It is so easy to get carried away, when you hear news you don’t agree with. We must respect the fact that we each see the world slightly differently. When our views differ, let’s have robust but constructive discussions, as opposed to throwing insults. Respecting each other is a good place to start if we really want a better world.

When I started reaching out to my fellow Africans on social media in June of this year, I got a lot of abuse because most of the people had never heard anyone promote acceptance of non-parenthood. To many, this was akin to blasphemy. Yet the extreme negative reaction I got, didn’t stop me. I wanted to make a difference, and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. Eventually, a lot of the hostility made way for more understanding of the fact that, not everyone can and will have children.

As I said before, we all want a better world, but for that to happen, we all have to play our part. We cannot expect others to do the heavy lifting, while we sit quietly on the sides. The part we can play does not have to be on a big scale. Just by being a better version of ourselves, we can make a real difference.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!

Happy New Year

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