The single most important thing you can do in 2018
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You’ve read the year-in-review pieces that proliferate around the internet in late December. You know this year was filled with unprecedented shifts and shocks around the world—from Trump to Macron, from events in Pyongyang to the tragedy of the Rohingya, from the solar eclipse to #MeToo, from NFL protests to the Charlottesville riots, and the Puerto Rico tragedy. Meanwhile, the crises of 2016—war in Syria, millions of all but forgotten refugees in Yemen and South Sudan, random small-scale terror attacks from ISIL-infected young men—have hardly receded from view.
Take a deep breath. And let go.
The world has seen a lot of terrible years, as Slate explained, back when everyone thought 2016 was the worst year in history. (Remember that?) The start of two world wars, economic crashes, hunger panics, empires and nations collapsed, scandals overtaking society, not to mention the usual famine, strife, disease and death—none of it’s new.
And we’re still here. Humans, and humanity, aren’t gone from the planet yet. And our greatest works of art, literature and culture were created in the margins over these same millennia.
Realize that we live in an era where news rockets around the globe in seconds, and bad news in particular comes with social media booster rockets. Yes, there are big, scary things, like the prospect of accidental nuclear war, that could wipe us out. But it’s no one’s moral obligation to martyr their emotional well-being in order to be plugged into the minute-by-minute developments of the goings-on of nearly 8 billion people. We can’t have empathy for the plight of our neighbors if we don’t first have empathy for ourselves.
As a Quartz reader, you know that among our core beliefs is that a more connected world can bring progress and benefit for all (and that it should be reported on with fairness and accuracy). But we also write a fair amount on how we need to take care of ourselves—our relationships, our families, our careers, and our mental and physical well-being. This is doubly true for those of our readers who work to try to change the world for the better. You’re no good to anyone if you’re an emotional wreck. As my colleagues in the news media know, it’s been a tough year to feel good about the topics we’re covering every day, even if we feel more determined than ever to cover them with accuracy and insightful analysis.
We hope you can take a few days around the New Year to rest, recharge, calibrate, and re-energize yourself for the months ahead, and whatever they may bring us. There’s a community of people who depend on each of us—and whom we depend on in turn—to enjoy good times with, and to support each other through the difficult ones. By taking care of ourselves, we’ll be better equipped, in 2018, to take care of each other. And that can make all the difference in the world.
This was published in the weekend edition of the Quartz Daily Brief, our news summary that’s tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe and Africa, or the Americas. Sign up for it here.
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