Life

Leona O'Neill: We as parents can help to make the future more hopeful than 2017

Resolutions are fast forgotten but there's one very important undertaking that parents have within our power to make – one that could well bring us back from the precipice 2017 looked like it was taking us towards, writes Leona O'Neill

Parents have to make sure to raise people who are willing to stand up for what’s right

THE new year is upon us and it's in our DNA to think of change, of turning over a new leaf, starting afresh, losing four stone, stopping smoking, taking up exercise, adopting different parenting techniques and just generally being better people.

For most of us these notions will have worn off by now, or if we are really determined, hard core new year resolutionists, they will stick around for a week.

I like the turn of the year. It's a chance to take stock of what has gone before and look to the future and all the opportunities it will present to us. It's a chance to see how we can make changes for the good and learn lessons from the things that maybe didn't work out so well.

A lot has changed in just 12 months. The world is becoming a harsher place. Our children are growing up in extremely difficult and testing times in a global community that is becoming smaller and less friendly. Every time we turn on the news we hear of a terror attack somewhere in the world, walls going up or prominent figures spouting hatred towards our fellow man.

2017 was the year the American public voted a racist, misogynistic, North Korea-taunting, seemingly uncaring, obsessive Tweeter into the highest office in the world. From January 20 last year we have watched the car crash to end all car crashes as he stumbled from one crisis to the next, promised to build up huge walls and tore down international relations carefully and delicately constructed over decades.

He insulted Mexicans, reporters, veterans, gold star families, women, residents of Puerto Rico and everyone else. He was basically was a bull in the proverbial China shop made flesh.

In turn he encouraged many more with extreme views to raise their voices. And they did not deliver a positive message. People lost their fear of being politically correct and spouted all kinds of hatred through largely unpoliced social media.

Although they were few, this platform made sure they reached many and with social media being young people's preferred mode of communication their message was widely and worryingly absorbed by the next generation of politicians, employers and leaders.

We can't stop these people from speaking out, but we can make sure that their views are challenged. We can make sure that those they speak ill of feel that there are more good people than bad in the world, that they are not alone.

Frankly 2017 was a big fat hate fest and I for one am going to try and make sure 2018 is the year of love and tolerance. Hurt people hurt people and if we can all make a difference in our own little circle then changes can happen on a larger scale.

We have to fight back against this wave of hatred that seems to be consuming our world. We can't change what goes on half way across the world. We can't change what intellectually challenged people say on their raised platforms to hurt others. But what we can do is raise children to be empathetic, to have compassion for their fellow man, to have a heart open to helping others and to be wise and caring.

We can show them how to stand up against hatred, to practice compassion and to respect our neighbours near and far by being good human beings every day.

There will always be good people and bad people in this world. We just have to make sure the good ones are strong, fierce, fearless and willing to stand up for what's right. That's our job as parents. Forget your pointless, forgotten-in-a-week resolutions – make that a lifetime promise.

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