2016 has been widely described as a ‘dumpster fire of a year’ — which is, of course, just a moderately clever way of saying that it has stunk.
And in many ways, this year has had all the charm of a large bin of burning garbage.
We’ve endured a lot on the global scale, from the loss of musical geniuses, including David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen, to the bitterest and most contentious election in memory (the aftershocks of which we will no doubt continue to feel for a long time to come).
Then there is the fentanyl crisis that has led to a record number of overdose deaths, not to mention Zika virus, ISIS and its role the ongoing refugee crisis and the affordable housing crunch.
It’s hard to blame a person if they just want to crawl under the covers and wait for 2017 to arrive.
Of course, by the end of 2015 — another not-so-great collection of 365 days — we were all anxious for the arrival of a new year, filled with fresh possibility.
And look how that turned out.
The good news is, with six weeks to go in 2016, it’s not too late to turn this one around.
Sure, we don’t have the power as individuals to stop terrorism or create affordable housing or stop people from overdosing. We can’t prevent our idols from dying or devastating natural disasters from occurring.
What we can do, though, is try to help make our own tiny piece of the Earth a better place than it is.
Whether that means pitching in to pick up garbage or clean up a stream, volunteering at a local food bank or shelter — or donating money to help a good cause — much of what it takes to improve people’s lives is within our grasp.
If you feel strongly about an issue, then by all means protest (peacefully) to push for change. You may not get what you want in the end, but you’ll have done what you could.
That way, the warm feeling you’ll get will come from the satisfaction of knowing you did your part, rather than from the heat radiating off the metaphorical burning dumpster that has so far been 2016.