For the past fifteen years, every December 28, New Yorkers have been burning their past year’s woes on “Good Riddance Day” in Times Square. People write down their most embarrassing moments, biggest failures, worst regrets, and throw their notes into an incinerator. Casting away unpleasant moments and incidents sounds like a great idea, except it doesn’t work. On the contrary, rejecting the bad instead of embracing it in order to learn from it is the best way to guarantee its recurrence.
People are indeed suffering. The level of hatred and agony that we inflict on each other has become unbearable for many. Julia from England, for example, wants to burn away anger. “Everyone hates each other, and it’s brought out the worst in people,” she says. Like Julia, Celeste from Manhattan wants hatred to stop. “If I had to get rid of anything, it would just be the hate,” she says.
Neither they, nor anyone else who was in Times Square or participated virtually, since the event was broadcast around the world, will see their wishes fulfilled. The intentions are good, but this is not the right way to go about it.
If we want something to disappear, we must understand why it came in the first place. Everything happens for a good reason. If we ignore the reason, we cannot get rid of its result.
We cannot know why every single thing happens, but by and large, there is only one thing that causes all the bad things that happen to us. As Celeste noted, it is hate. Our hatred for each other is the culprit behind all the bad things that happen, behind the harm that we do to each other and to the environment.
However, we cannot simply choose not to hate. We must acknowledge that we feel hate, then jointly foster love and mutual concern that are more intense than the innate hatred that oozes out from the depth of our psyche.
The hatred and the anger that we see on the outside merely reflect our inner feelings. If we cultivate among us opposite feelings from the ones we see around us, they will percolate inside us and mitigate the hatred that we all emit.
It must be a joint, concerted effort. Only by working together can we subdue such a formidable nemesis as human egoism. Alone, we are defenseless against it. But if realize that hatred is the culprit, and if we join hands in building love above all our differences, chasms, and hostilities, then we will make the year that has just begun, and all the years that follow, a truly good year, with much to be grateful for, and little to want to bid good riddance.