Dear friends of Realized Worth,

Last week, the RW team gathered around a holiday feast in Toronto and happily raised our glasses to the hope of a new year. We said hearty goodbyes to 2016 and allowed ourselves to laugh as we recalled the challenging events of the year. We made it through. We did well. And we are grateful.

Like so many others, the challenges of 2016 took us by surprise. From public health emergencies to heartbreaking celebrity deaths; from Brexit to the US Presidential election, Brussels, Nice, Istanbul, Orlando, and Aleppo. These are the true, important and astonishingly painful stories that fill our news feeds, while in our daily lives we have witnessed the heartbreak of our own children, the unexpected loss of loved ones, and the hopelessness of friends.

I heard someone say, with conviction, “Now, that’s what I need at a CSR conference.”

Looking back on the past twelve months, we have seen that with suffering comes a call to intervene. This year, compassion and empathy have emerged in full force through art and expression, corporate initiatives and volunteering, social movements and peaceful protests. In March I attended a conference where – at a rowdy reception at the end of a long day – a woman with a strong and peaceful presence asked if she could read me a poem. When I nodded and she began to read, a hush fell over the crowd around us.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there….

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

Her voice took on an ethereal quality and we, a crowd of 20 or more, listened with rapt attention. When this unexpected poetry reading concluded and the poignant atmosphere merged with the surrounding post-conference chaos, I saw more than one tear quickly wiped away by both men and women in the listening crowd. Before we broke apart and returned to our networking and small talk, I heard someone say, with conviction, “Now, that’s what I need at a CSR conference.”

Ours is not a task of fixing the entire world all at once. And so, this holiday season, it’s Realized Worth’s wish that you be inspired by the world within your reach – the server who seems short-tempered or cold, the kid at work with his entitled attitude, your sister who always says the wrong thing. Or perhaps this is your season to receive, to open up to the gifts offered by others. Maybe your greatest contribution this holiday season is simple acceptance.

For much of the world, it’s been a very hard year. These holiday weeks offer a time to give and receive as best we can. To extend grace and hospitality to those who least expect it and to be kind to ourselves when we’ve nothing left to give. That night at the CSR conference, my friend ended her reading with these words:

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul … The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

Though the road ahead may be as perilous as the one we’ve just taken, we’ll take it nonetheless. And as we go, we might just discover our potential as human beings to be better than we thought we could be. On behalf of everyone at Realized Worth, here’s to being fierce and showing mercy. 

– Angela Parker, co-founder, Realized Worth