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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
Acton hotel fire


The Good Long Road | Commentary by Jennifer Fischer
| Saturday, Dec 21, 2013

JenniferFischerTonight I’m thinking of my first Christmas with my partner of 14 years ago. We met when we were both studying abroad in Cairo, Egypt, of all places, although he grew up in Boston and was in school at UMass-Amherst, and I grew up in Texas and was in school in New York.

Neither of us had particular ties or reasons to be in Egypt, but there we were. And here we are now, 14 years later, still celebrating Christmas together – now in California with our two sons.

That Christmas, we decided to go to Bethlehem. The trip was kind of crazy because we did not have a long Christmas break. We literally took a lengthy bus trip from Cairo to Jerusalem. Then we took a taxi to Bethlehem for the Christmas Eve service. Then we returned to Jerusalem and spent the night in a hostel only to get back on a bus in the morning to return to Cairo.

But it was worth it. Being in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve with the man with whom I was quickly falling in love was truly magical – particularly in 1999 when there was still so much hope and promise for peace between Israel and Palestine, which quickly dissipated less than one year later. That night, though, we celebrated with Israelis, Palestinian Authority police officers and other individuals from around the globe – peacefully and joyfully.

Back in Jerusalem, it snowed, which is rare for that part of the world. The whole evening was magical and felt serendipitous. Yet in some ways, that night now haunts me, as I see that so much of the world is still so far from peace, and that individuals from diverse backgrounds coming together to celebrate still does not happen often enough, even here in the U.S. We still see violence and hatred growing out of differences, misunderstandings and mistrust.

I shared on my blog recently that my word for 2014 is “compassion.” Compassion often is more easy to come by for those we know, those we relate to, those we view as like us or whom we deem “good.” The challenge is to demonstrate compassion to those who challenge us, those who are different from us, whom many in the world choose to cast aside.

As I look toward 2014, I find myself yearning to break through the barriers and reduce the divides. I am hoping to be a light and a force of compassion even for those I fear, for individuals often tossed aside or overlooked, those whom many in society would like to pretend do not exist.

I know it might not always be easy, but I know I must try. I have been blessed. My Bethlehem memory reminds me of that. Somehow I went halfway around the world to find the person I would spend the rest of my life with.

My beautiful sons remind me that I am blessed, and I feel I have a responsibility – to them and to myself – to do what I can to share my blessings and foster a better world.

So, this coming year, I’m focusing on creating a world with more compassion.

What’s your word? What are some of your goals?  Pop over to The Good Long Road on Facebook and tell me. I’d love to know.

 

Jennifer Fischer is co-founder of the SCV Film Festival, a mom of two, an independent filmmaker and owner of Think Ten Media Group, whose Generation Arts division offers programs for SCV youth. She writes about her parenting journey on her blog, The Good Long Road. Her commentary is published Saturdays on SCVNews.com.

 

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