Culture WIN: Gratitude for 2012 (And We Survived the Apocalypse!)

2012. What a frickin’ year. A lot of bad things happened, ranging from the just crappy to the purely heartbreaking. As terrible as things were, I’ve been overwhelmed by the caring and humane responses by America at large. Many things in the past decade have made me concerned for our country’s future, but you know what? 2012 has made me hopeful. Here are a few things that made my year, and I hope yours too.

Twenty-six Acts of Kindness was NBC News’ Ann Curry’s response to the Newtown shooting tragedy. She encouraged people to consciously perform one act of kindness in memory of each of the victims, and for each good Samaritan to ask the recipients of their acts to “pay it forward.” It is a tender response to the Newtown tragedy that has united rather than divided, and it is catching on like wildfire.

Marriage equality has continued its state-by-state expansion. The world can always use more love, and if the love is between consenting adults, laws should not discourage it. More couples’ love being recognized and legitimized by their state governments—as well as their neighbors—is to me, a beautiful thing.

It’s been wonderful to see our (sometimes scarily) rapidly-advancing technology used to help others. I revel in the speed and ease with which we can now aid disaster recovery, thanks to texting and the internet. Twitter was used by people affected by Hurricane Sandy to ask for and offer help; people can now simply text a code to the Red Cross to immediately donate money; and social networking sites are even being employed to make a difference, as their members use them to raise political awareness and facilitate action.

And then there are the little things that have made my year: how vendors at the farmers’ market give my toddler free samples of produce; the very existence of the Mario Pastega House at the hospital, a donation-only home-away-from home for out of town patients and their relatives; the downtown busker who decorates himself with Christmas lights and has his pet chihuahua perched on his guitar as he sings “Uncle John’s Band;” and how people sincerely smile when they say hello.

While the state of our government, our infrastructure, our educational system, and even our planet may be in question, 2012 showed me that our state of humanity is doing just fine.

by Mica Habarad