That hasn't happened. Or, rather, the online community part hasn't. Nobody shares the hashtags I dream up. I'm pretty sure that no one (other than one really cool teacher in San Antonio) really uses my Have a Good Day calendar. I doubt any of you do the Weekly Challenges.
But even in the absence of a growing online community of goodness, something extraordinary HAS happened - personal connection. Friends from the past have resurfaced, "liking" posts and PMing me about how what I wrote resonated with them. People I don't know in places like Denver and Washington State have become friends. When I run into folks out and about in town, they say "thank you" for my posts. Writing about goodness allowed me to be brave enough to make a call for folks to "do something" about Syrian refugees. Those "do something" folks are now connected and hundreds strong. An article written about our Welcome Party for newly resettled refugees was even picked up by the Associated Press.
It's a really cool thing to plug into a pulsating current of goodness. We live in a harrowing and miraculous time. We live in a time where I am simultaneously aware of families adopting special needs kids half a world away and families grieving over the death of their beloved daughter in a crowded refugee camp (the fact that she was a four year old in a Hello Kitty t-shirt slayed my heart). We live in a time where I am overcome with emotion on a regular basis by good news (thanks HSP, for declaring me to be a genius), and simultaneously spout obscenities when I learn of another child who needlessly died of an accidental gunshot wound.
I've always loved the quote, "If you're not pissed off, you're not paying attention." Even if you're just half-awake, you know that we live in a time that is hard. But our time is not impossible. You are possibility. You are hope. Your willingness to be connected with someone else on the basis of good makes more good possible.
Mike is currently hosting iDebate Rwanda at JMU. They are a group of young and accomplished Rwandan students on a mission to change the world through teaching advocacy, public speaking, and critical thinking skills. I listened to them prepare their presentation yesterday, a presentation about the promise of a post-genocide generation. One speaker read a letter from a mother to her unborn child. The letter lamented the horrors of genocide, and yet brought forth a message of love and hope. Hope for a better life. Hope for reconciliation. Hope for a good world.
No matter whom I've connected with in the past year - Harrisonburg locals, Iraqi refugees, Rwandan debaters - we all share hope. We want better. We want good.
So, I'm re-tooling my focus on this website. I'll still throw out hashtags in case someone cares to use them, but my real purpose will be connection. I want to know you. I want to know how you think you can make the world better. I want to be your cheerleader, and I want to be your friend. I want to help your light shine.
You all are certainly helping me. I am not the same person that I was last October. I'm taking risks because I know the rewards will be worth it. Thanks for reading. Thanks for your feedback. Thanks for helping me really see how much potential we have to make a difference. And to Melinda - thanks for my necklace. When I need a reminder of what connection looks like, it will be hanging there close to my heart.