Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas, Chanukah and Kwaanza wait in the wings. The new year is out on the horizon. The season of giving thanks, peace and love, and hope for a better future is upon us. And, the world is in turmoil.

Stuart Light

Stuart Light

Wars rage on with no end in sight. The Israelis and Palestinians have miles to go before they will ever live in peace. Poverty, intolerance, and cultural and racial divisions still exist in our complex country. So does the threat of terrorism.

The scathing political season has ended in an election that left us divided; the rancor and incivility inflicted wounds. Hurricane Sandy, one of the most terrible messengers Mother Nature has ever sent, has exacted her toll on the eastern seaboard and its citizens.

What is there to be thankful for? Where’s the peace and love? How will hope be found for a better future?

Joseph Campbell said, “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. When we talk about settling the world’s problems, we’re barking up the wrong tree. The world is perfect. It’s a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”

With each breath we take there’s an opportunity to experience gratitude, peace, love and hope. With our families and friends, around the holiday table, and with those we reach out to help whom we may never have met, but have great needs to meet.

There was so much made after the election about how the country has changed. But look around and you’ll see that it really hasn’t. When catastrophe strikes, we find our common humanity and pull together as one.

A hurricane simply doesn’t care about what was said in a debate, where one stands on abortion, whether your cup of tea is Fox News or CNN. And if a relationship ended, a job was lost, or a loved one got sick or died, the holidays are going to be rough no matter how bright and colorful the lights, or merry the music.

We each have the capacity to change the world little by little, even if it means helping just one person at a time, or touching one single individual in a meaningful way. As a practicing psychotherapist and instructor of graduate students at Antioch University, I am fortunate to be able to do just that. The students in our program are here for this very purpose; to be able to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families, and in this way, make a difference in the world.

The world is a mess for sure, but it’s our mess. Let’s make the best of it by looking inward with compassion, curiosity and kindness, without judgment, so that we may look out at each other in the same way. That would be something to celebrate!

Antioch University is open for applications for winter and fall entry. Click here for additional information about the Master’s in Clinical Psychology Program at Antioch University.

— Stuart Light, M.A., M.Ed., serves as affiliate faculty in the Master’s in Clinical Psychology Program and also in the BA program at Antioch University Santa Barbara, as well as at Santa Barbara City College in the Alcohol and Drug Certification Program. He is the author of numerous articles, columns and essays on political, social and psychological issues that have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Santa Barbara News-Press, Santa Barbara Independent, Montecito Journal, Coastal Woman Magazine and the CAMFT Newsletter.