As we move towards the end of January, we sink back into the regular routines thrown astray by December madness. Our next exciting pit stop of the year is spring, when we can finally peel off not only our layers of clothing, but also the gloominess of winter. In the meantime, many of us have probably seen several, or maybe dozens, 2013 year in review analysis through timelines, photos, and countless gifs. Well here’s one more – a look towards the next 11 months through three memorable quotes of the past year and three quotes from 100 years passed.
For here am I, sitting in a tin can. Far above the world. Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do. – Astronaut Chris Hadfield, singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity from the space station.
An engaging and ongoing story of 2013 was that of Chris Hadfield, who entranced planet earth with guitar solos and “what happens when…” experiments from space. His transmissions were a wonderful reminder of our constant curiosity of how things work…especially in space! His videos helped us maintain a hunger for knowledge and demonstrated that there is still adventure in the universe to be had.
Mark Twain reiterated this character essential in 1913, describing Californians in Roughing It: “It was a splendid population – for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home – you never find that sort of people among pioneers – you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material.” Passion and hard work drive innovation and exploration into new frontiers, whether that is into outer space or cutting-edge medical treatments. The adventure of learning grows our communities and ourselves, uniting us despite our differences.
So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. – Malala Yousafzai’s speech to United Nations General Assembly
…And speaking of the necessity for knowledge, this quote, delivered by a 16-year-old student and education activist, implored the world to not give up on the power of education. Malala Yousafzai’s triumph in the face of adversity and continuing pursuit of rights for education and women serves as inspiration for continuing to stand for your beliefs. At the very least, her persistence and positive outlook should put some perspective on the tribulations in our daily lives.
In 1913 Thomas Edison was quoted as saying: “Books will soon be obsolete in the public schools. Scholars will be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture.” Chris Hadfield’s video diaries demonstrated that not only do we hunger for visual instruction, but also the power of “motion picture”, as he created a following of individuals from all walks of life. The power of the Internet is that it democratizes the access of information and knowledge to every person who wishes to seek it out through a variety of media mediums. Malala Yousafzai’s ongoing activism reinforces that education should not only be available to all, but it is also the key in the fight for equality.
Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters, can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. – Barack Obama at his second Presidential Inauguration
Out of the countless tragedies and marginalization that occurred in 2013, many individuals stood out in the fight for human rights. 100 years ago, the Nobel Prize winner in Literature poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “Only in love are unity and duality not in conflict.” We continue to learn that despite our differences we can band together, especially in the face of adversity to do good. For every story of bullying and bombing, there were many more powerful accounts of those that sought to protect and piece back together the lives of those harmed.
As we are halfway through January, many of us have already abandoned our ongoing New Year’s resolutions of loss, restriction, and breaking of long term habits. Let us use those powerful thoughts and endeavors of 2013 to fuel action in ourselves for the remainder of 2014. We will continue to assist those impacted by disaster, but we also will be proactive with those who may require help beforehand but are unable to ask for it.
Get involved in community programs, vote in local elections, start a neighborhood garden. Share space with those who may need a helping hand or an earnest ear to remind them that they matter too. Make this year not only better for yourself, but others around you.
Let 2014 be the year of action instead of just reaction.