Each year on December 28, people celebrate the Good Riddance Day, when they toss, smash, or burn objects, pictures, or notes representing bad memories from the previous year. This year, the event, inspired by a Latin American tradition, was especially noticeable as people lined up in Times Square to smash their bad memories. After all, didn’t 2020 provide much to toss and smash?
I understand why people want to smash bad memories and why they hope they will never return. But I also know that “smashing” bad memories, that is, putting them behind us and forgetting about them, is the best way to guarantee that they will return, and likely more intensely than before.
We treat unpleasant events as misfortunes, but they are not. If there is no purpose to unpleasant events, however painful, then is there a purpose to the welcome events, those that please us and make us feel good? If something makes no sense, how can its opposite make any sense?
What has emerged in the passing year, especially in the US, is hatred, mainly between Left and Right. If they could overcome it, they would thrive in everything: health, education, economics, and in every other sense. What is destroying America is hatred between Left and Right, and between Blacks and Whites.
Revealing the hatred in itself is not bad. What’s bad is when you don’t do anything about it. Hatred among people is revealed so we will rise above it. However hard we try to stifle it, it will not work. Americans have been trying to suppress hatred between Blacks and Whites probably since the beginning of slavery. They fought a civil war over racial hatred, yet racism is as vivid and as rabid now as it has always been. Moreover, now it is destroying the entire American society.
This should teach us something: We cannot erase hatred; we can only rise above it. That is, we can only increase our desire to unite, our understanding that unity is essential to our survival, to the point that unity precisely with the one we hate is more important than to vent our aversion.
When we do that, when we make unity that important to us, we will realize that this was the whole purpose of experiencing the hatred in the first place. Had it not been for the revelation of the hatred, we would not have needed to forge such a strong union. Now, thanks to the prior animosity, we have formed unity on levels that we never knew existed.
For this reason, we should not say “good riddance” to anything that we don’t like. On the contrary, we need to look for the flaw it came to show us. And that flaw, one way or the other, will always relate to our lack of love for one another.
So for the coming year, I wish everyone a year of reckoning, a year of understanding why things happen, why we should unite, and how we can achieve it. This will give 2020 purpose and meaning, and it will make 2021 our best year ever.