Dec 13, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
Since my now-adult children were young, my family has enjoyed a holiday tradition in which we share gift wish lists with each other. The ritual has been a source of humor within my family and increasingly a chance to reflect on the world around us, particularly our blessings, and the plight of those less fortunate.
This year the material gifts disappeared completely from our wish lists, supplanted by a call to support worthwhile charities and be more active to help those in need. This clearly reflects the increasing age and maturity of my family members, and the fact that none of us needs anything except each other’s company. Like many in our social circle, my family has everything we need, and more. We are truly lucky. It also reflects the increasing awareness that our material well-being is not shared by many around us.
It is no longer possible to ignore the homeless crisis. It is no longer possible to ignore the plight of victims of war and the flood of refugees with nowhere to go. It is no longer possible to ignore the racial tensions that again are breaking our society apart. It is no longer possible to ignore the thousands of beautiful minds that are not served by our failing educational systems. It is no longer possible to ignore the hopelessness of many of our youth in this country and around the world. It is no longer possible to ignore the obvious environmental damage that we are causing to our own detriment — just visit practically any major city in the world from China to Mexico and try to breathe. Fly over Greenland and see the quickly retreating ice. Drink the water in Flint, Michigan. Or, simply drive during rush hour here in Atlanta.
Most all of us at Georgia Tech are among the privileged, at least from the point of view of access to education, healthcare, information, and resources not everyone in this country has the opportunity to experience. At some level, all of us can serve a higher purpose that involves reaching out to others in need and working to find solutions to the many problems facing the world, our nation, and our communities.
I hope that the true holiday spirit continues throughout this year and beyond and that we individually and collectively take an active role to serve, learn, and sustain each other through acts of kindness, leadership, and advocacy.
Do not be passive observers. Please get engaged.
- Rafael L. Bras