I do not usually make New Year’s resolutions. What I do throughout the year is make notes on what I want to accomplish both in the short and long term. I try to take time out each day to think on what I envision for my future while making preparations to see those dreams come through.  As human beings we have the power within us to achieve even the things we do not dream of but what often happens is that we get caught up in the demands of life. Some of us give so much to others and to the establishments that we forget to spend time focusing on ourselves. Creating balance in our lives by taking care of our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing becomes tied up in delays and excuses and often the things we would have dreamed of are forgotten.

I do believe however that making New Year’s resolutions helps many people focus on accomplishing their goals. In my experience the older one gets, the shorter time appears to be. While as a child 365 days seemed like an eternity, now time seems to be racing leaving many of us hanging on to what was, letting the present escape us and being fearful of what the future might hold.

2016 has been another year where the many challenges reminded us that life is designed with a combination of joys as well as sorrows. Some of us lost loved ones; some of us might have lost faith in humanity while some of us would have faced trials that left us questioning everything we believed in. It is the glimpses of hope that helped to get us through.

The joys we experience remind us that we ought to be grateful for the gift of life. Regardless of what stage or what age we might be we made it through another year. We should take time to express gratitude to the people in our lives that have had positive influence on us. We should take time to acknowledge our own contributions and think about how we can further initiate positive change and promote healthy human relations.

In the first half of the year, we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, which attracted a massive return of Guyanese from the diaspora. It left many feeling proud. For me it was great to witness that many have not forgotten home. Despite all the issues there were with the jubilee celebrations and despite all the issues we have had with progress since Independence, it was wonderful to witness a Guyanese presence that looked like unity and that felt warm and hopeful.

While the change that many of us want to see has not yet come and discontent grips us where issues like the cost of living is concerned; while it seems sometimes that our leaders are not listening to our cries leaving many of us feeling neglected, immersed in feelings of hopelessness and looking outside of Guyana for greener pastures, we are here. While we wait to see justice for heroes like Courtney Crum-Ewing and to see how the cards will play for those who have done great harm to our country, we are here however far we may be from a more wholesome society. Issues like the violence remind us that our work has to be constant. Blood continues to splatter and run in this land leaving us to question, where we are going wrong. How deadened are some of our people? What possess some to do the horrible things they do?

Just this week we experienced two cases of domestic violence where one woman Bhartie Udho from Corriverton Berbice lost an arm in an attack by a former boyfriend. Her mother Amika Udho was also attacked and  suffered several chops about the body.

We also saw the death of a young woman Lonnet Prince Nicholson by the hands of her husband. The young lady had moved out of the marital home because of abuse and even got a restraining order, but in the end it did little to protect her. The conversations on domestic violence have been ongoing. While the names of women who are victims continue to be recorded in Book of Death, many of our men continue to show contempt for women. The recent events have given new life to the conversations. How do we keep our women safe? How do we educate our men that they do not have to resort to violence? How do we get more fathers to not only be present in the lives of their sons but to be an example to them? How do we appeal to a man who has murder in his heart that even the children that the relationship might have produced seem not to matter? How do we further communicate the message that it is okay to walk away from a relationship and that it is a person’s right to walk away without harm or fear?

I do believe that change starts in the home. Boys need more examples they can look up to. Even if their biological fathers are absent they need positive male role models. We need to celebrate the men who are examples in our society. Women also need to be mindful as to how they treat their sons and how they relate to their fathers or other men in their life. The religious community also has to play a role. While the narrative of male dominance in some religious teachings has served to empower some men into thinking that women should be subservient, the religious community has a responsibility to lift the woman and celebrate her as having equal importance as the man. My hope is that as we enter 2017 the work that is already being done will intensify and we will see less and eventually an eradication violence.

This year we also witnessed many situations of robbers prowling in the day and night and causing much distress. Most of the culprits were young men whose dreams are great but are corrupted by impatience. Desperation and vanity have driven many of them to reap what they have not sown.  Again change starts in the home where mothers and fathers have to highlight the honour in working honestly for what one wants and the importance of gaining an education; about the dignity in earning an honest living no matter what the occupation; to let them know that there is pride in every honest occupation. My hope for our country in 2017 is that the needs of the Guyanese populace be put first so that the collective healing that we desperately need can make leaps. As individuals it is imperative that we do what we can to see the change we want in our lives and in our society. All of us are important and we each have a role to play.