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Hey all. I took some vacation time over the holidays, so I apologize for the radio silence last Friday.

But even though we’re 10 days into 2020, and it seems little has changed. The world seems to be on the precipice of disaster, and we’re digging in our heels on every issue under the sun.

Watching the news these days and seeing the coverage of natural disasters, wars, political strife and a general sense of decaying compassion around the world … and it makes me wonder how we ever made it to 2020.

Not to sound all doom-and-gloom; after all, I'm sure prognosticators and commentators have been marveling at the continued existence of the human race for hundreds of years. I'm by no means suggesting that we're at a low point in the history of human existence; I'm merely marveling at how fractured our world seems to be.

One of the things that always attracted me to a show like ``Star Trek'' was the idea of global harmony in mankind's future. After countless wars, humanity had created a worldwide utopia — one government where everyone was equal and everyone deserved and received health care, education and opportunity. We're a long way from fulfilling such a vision, and I guess what bothers me as we dig into 2020 is just how far away we are.

With all of our technological advances, you would think that we would be growing closer as a community of people. In fact, the trend seems to be just the opposite — we’re all gazing longingly and lovingly at the screens we hold in our hands, content to expend our energy on a digital existence and shut out the rest of the world.

I can't figure out why that is. Perhaps it's because shutting out the rest of the world and all of the negativity it contains is the only way some of us can cope. Maybe our day-to-day struggles make us selfish; we figure that we've got too many of our own problems to pay attention to those of other people. Or maybe we're just growing apart, the way friends do over time and distance.

Then again, maybe we're just so inundated by the chaos and violence of Planet Earth — the politics, the disharmony, the discord — that's we're just desensitized. We're not shocked or moved anymore; we just tend to stare with nonchalance at whatever's taking place and move on about our business.

(And I use “we” here because I'm including myself. Lord knows I get caught up in social media debates with a passion that crosses the line from healthy to ugly on occasion. OK, maybe more than “on occasion.”)

Optimism is a hard thing to hold onto these days. But I have enough faith in the basic goodness of the human heart inside me to feel hopeful about 2020. Because I can't lump everyone on this planet into one nameless, faceless mass. There are too many good and decent people, from those of you who pause long enough passing me on campus to offer a smile to friendly drivers who let me cut in front of them in a line of traffic to hugs from near-strangers at recovery meetings, who renew my belief that, no matter what the next year has in store for us, we all just might be alright.

I can't say that I'm making any hard-and-fast New Year's resolutions, because most of the time, I lack the willingness to follow through with them. Besides, a resolution seems rather superficial — I mean, stopping smoking and getting healthy is great, but changing the human heart takes more than just a resolution, I believe.

But like every year, I intend to do my best: to embrace the better angels of my nature instead of the scurrilous ones, to put myself out there instead of walling myself off. It may be something insignificant to most people — but if it makes a difference to just one person, then it'll make a difference to me. And that's what's most important, isn't it?

Opening up. Letting people in. Reaching out and grasping someone's hand. We're all in this together; we should all start acting like it.

Happy New Year to you and yours. Here’s your Friday motivation.