NOTICE: The Mercy Traveler hopes peace and reconciliation will feature prominently in 2022

Philip Maher writes “It is important to seek the path of reconciliation and peace with your neighbors this year. Maybe this could be our big reset ‘

Ok, let’s be honest; for many, 2021 was like taking down a lighted dumpster. Only the world wars have touched so many people so deeply. Many will be happy to see it in the rearview mirror.

If you’re like me, you start to feel like an actor in a movie like Outbreak where a deadly disease threatens civilization. A more startling comparison has been the shark film Jaws, where the mayor refuses to close the beach for a lucrative vacation despite the looming ocean disaster. This begs the question: how far exactly should we restrict freedoms and corporate economies to safeguard a population? Just as there are acceptable restrictions for security reasons, are there acceptable death rates to maintain democracy? Some argue, for example, that lowering the speed limit to 30 would save lives. Why don’t we do it?

The pandemic has created a myriad of moral and ethical discussions in Western countries unlike any since World War II. We all try to maintain our moral hygiene, but our brains are cluttered with convoluted arguments that no amount of brain thread can be cleansed. We are faced with the openings, the closings and the restriction of privileges that we expect from a democratic society: the freedom to shop, to walk and to move in general. We have found ourselves inundated with conspiracy theories that lead us to research metaphorical tin foil hats.

These days I often think of a mission I did in North Korea. I remember a conversation where my North Korean guard told me the Americans wanted to invade. They cited the 30,000 armed soldiers deployed at the border as evidence. No amount of conversation and language dexterity would convince my North Korean guide that troops existed to prevent the North from marching to the South. For them, the proof was there, at the border. I find discussions of current government policies on COVID equally frustrating. Those who suggest we are not in an apocalyptic reset or conspiracy remember the COVID police, internet censorship, and employee twisting of arms to get vaccinated as evidence. They point to their evidence just as my North Korean friend pointed out the presence of American soldiers as his.

Affirmation theory suggests that we tend to see things that affirm our beliefs when we ignore information that doesn’t. We are looking for things that prove our case. Those who see evidence to the contrary are seen as misled or worse, probed by aliens. We all do this to some extent. This year, some of us have had to do it more than ever, because sometimes contradictory and contradictory information intrigues us. Whether you support closures, vaccinations and the like, we all have ways to justify our position. Likewise, we are all passionate about supporting different political parties. How is that, given that we all have access to the same information?

I would like to convince you of my position as you would like to convince me of yours.

As I look to 2022, I have very big New Year wishes for all of us. I’m not sure I can keep these wishes on my own, but I would like to try.

My first wish is for us to be less sure of everything that is going on. I actually think we’ll be happier. Some chair experts seem so sure things when I’m not. I don’t want to let the government get away with it, but rather I think they are trying to understand this like the rest of us. They won’t always be right, but I don’t think they get along to destroy my freedom. My wish for us is that we try to be comfortable taking each day as it comes. It will be better for our mental health.

Can I hope that we can be less dogmatic in our opinions on what the government should do? Being comfortable with the fact that there are things we don’t know and things we will never know? When this pandemic ends, and science will tell, we will continue to debate whether we have handled it properly.

Also, I hope that in 2022 we can avoid making enemies of people on the other side of the political and philosophical spectrum. They are people like you and me. The same goes for healthcare workers, pharmaceutical executives, the media as well as pro and anti-vaccines. They are ordinary people.

I also hope that in 2022 we will see that the contradictions are sometimes only paradoxes. At the very least, it can make us smoother when we choose sides. I don’t know if the camp you have chosen will matter in 2025? I know my friends are important to me. These relationships that I appreciate. The rest, I’m not sure.

And finally in 2022, a concrete hope that we will support companies in difficulty that support their families and that bear a significant burden by paying their taxes.

I keep reminding myself that these are turbulent times for many, no matter what community you call your home. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you don’t stand your ground, stand up for your opinions, or live your life sensibly the way you want to. However, as far as possible, I think it is important to seek the path of reconciliation and peace with your neighbors this year. Maybe this could be our big reset. This is my set of New Years greetings.

Peace and blessings be on your head.

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