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New Year Hope and Happiness for 2012


The year 2011 is passing and it’s a good time for us to ask ourselves what we did in 2011 to make a difference for the good in the life of even one person. Mindful that our life is quickly passing us by, we are carried on the river of time towards our final inescapable end. We should account for our lives and the impact that that we have on other human beings, in our family, community and the world at large.

To live and not to have helped others, not to have done something significant to make this a better world has to be a life to be mourned.

A new year’s resolution to do more for others could save lives, reduce hunger and disease and make the lives of those less fortunate much happier.

Our lives will be more fulfilled and happier too. We will be living with a purpose, a goal and a meaning. There must be some meaning to our existence and many people find it in their faith in eternal values: like truth, justice, honesty, goodness, freedom, trust, faithfulness and love. People are living and dying for these values in the Middle East and wherever there is injustice, oppression and slavery of one kind or another.

In living out these values as best we can, we make present and personify eternal love and goodness. We can make a huge difference in the lives of others and they, in turn, can help more. For example, educate and motivate a young person and he or she will help a family out of hunger and poverty.

Having surplus money only for oneself can bring us unhappiness and can never match the experience of helping others in dire need. By generously helping a charity, we can share in the love of humanity that serves the needy and seeks no reward, no praise, asks no payback. It is love that is unconditional, self-giving, practical and effective and we can discover the greatest wealth of all – happiness.

We can see that spirit of selfless service and sacrifice throughout the world in 2011. In Syria, people bravely risk their lives to protest injustice and oppression and when they are shot down by the ruthless and genocidal regime, others risk their lives to carry the wounded out of the line of fire to get medical help. It’s incredible that they are dying in this way, as many as 5000 in the past year.

In the Philippines, there are hundreds of volunteers working day and night to help the thousands of displaced survivors of the worst floods and typhoons to hit that part of Mindanao in years. Because of illegal logging, only possible with the connivance of corrupt officials, hundreds of cut logs from the mountains came roaring down the swollen rivers. They burst their banks and the logs became battering rams that smashed all before them, whole villages were leveled and washed away. The hills are long deforested and mud slides buried hundreds of people. Bodies are still being found, as many as 2000 may have been killed. But many good people are working as volunteers and others are donating money and food to help the refugees. The Columban Missionaries in Cagayan De Oro have converted a school to a refugee shelter helping house and feed 70 survivors.

Another positive selfless risk-taking for justice has been the swift action of the Philippine Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima in getting an arrest warrant blocking the departure of the Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is facing plunder and election fraud charges.

Perhaps the most significant action for justice has been bringing charges and issuance of an arrest warrants for retired Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. and his three military henchman. They are accused of assassinations of militants, social justice activists, human rights advocates and allegedly the disappearance of two University of the Philippines’ students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

These are all positive developments in 2011 that give the people inspiration and hope that the country can be saved from the crippling criminal behavior of officials. The evidence that corruption is being reduced and the suspects brought to justice is igniting a new sense of optimism that government funds will go to help the needy and not the greedy.

Wishing all readers of this column blessings in the coming New Year., St. Columban’s, Navan, Ireland.

By Fr. Shay Cullen

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