In 2013, we celebrated the OM Year of Kindness, sharing stories about people who had looked out for others, done good deeds and made a difference.
It is an exercise that proved to be both inspirational and informative. It sometimes feels as though kindness is in short supply, but our blog posts have shown that this is not the case. People do care and benevolence and love continue to prevail. Not everywhere and not everyone, granted. But the Kindness Movement is in good health and it isn't hard to find examples.
People, in the main, want to help each other. Sometimes it isn't possible, for there are obstacles that cannot be overcome and boundaries that cannot be crossed. Usually, though, if the will is there and the spirit is strong it's possible to find a way. It might require determination, or need certain fears to be faced. Quite often, it just calls for bravery, which brings us to our point . . .
If 2012 was the OM Year of Love and 2013 the OM Year of Kindness, 2014 is the OM Year of Courage. You see, without courage, things such as love and kindness cannot prosper. Make no mistake: courage is at the heart of all that we stand for.
It takes courage to do the right thing. To go against the crowd. To refuse to take the easiest options in life. It takes courage to reach out to others. To stand up for someone. To come to another's aid. To build communities, to unite and to connect, we must first find courage. Courage to fight prejudice, discrimination and intolerance. Courage to go against the tide.
Nelson Mandela had great courage and look what he achieved. If we are to honor Madiba's memory, then first we must start to be more brave. Thankfully, we're not alone in reaching this conclusion.
Tyrek Marquez, a 12-year-old from Connecticut, has, in recent times, spent his days volunteering at a Youth Center in Washington, his efforts part of an 'Acts of Kindness Week' in remembrance of Newtown. No big deal, you might think, but consider that, five years ago, Tyrek was shot in the head, leaving him with a limp and without the use of one of his arms, and his courage becomes clear. In making a stand against guns and violence, Tyrek has been brave enough to face his fears in an attempt to make the world a better place for us all. That is courage. That is what we're talking about.
In Minneapolis, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Graders are taking part in a program that aims to 'build a more inclusive school community by encouraging students to accept people for who they are, resist following the crowd and act with moral courage despite their fears'.
Elsewhere in the United States, Keyona Williams is running a workshop called Chain Reaction, which is based around the beliefs of Rachel Scott, who - as our regular readers will know - was a Columbine victim who has left quite a legacy . . .
'We all wear masks,' says Keyona. 'We wear masks because we think they protect us, but they don't. They hide us. If we can show enough courage to take off our masks, throw them down and break them into a million pieces, we'll realize that we're not alone'.
Here at OM®, this is something that has struck quite a chord. We're determined to remove our masks in 2014 and have the courage to continue our quest: to do the right thing, to encourage kindness and compassion, to look out for others and to harness the power of connection. We hope you'll join us.
Here's to the OM Year of Courage . . .
Happy New Year!