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My daughter is 17. Before long she will attend University and begin what will be an exciting, beautiful, and wonderful life on her own. I am sure life will throw her the occasional curveball but she’s a first rate person, and will handle life and all it’s complications with aplomb. We are so very blessed. With family, our urban family, and friends and colleagues that enrich each day with their presence. Abundance is ours, at least of the love kind. We’re not much interested in any other kind.

Love defines everything in my life. It conveys faith, forgiveness, redemption, joy, courage, bravery, understanding, and triumph over the moments defined by an absence of love. In the absence of love, there is fear, animus, vitriol, jealousy, loneliness, violence and hatred. Of course life is more complicated, but for the days and nights that have mattered most in my life – love was either there, or it was not. The outcome defined entirely by the same.

This year was beautiful and freeing. Turning forty was something I faced with trepidation, then exaltation. The moments where my breath was taken away are irreplaceable. A note from a dear friend, the carefully stolen moments reading The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife, and equally – even more resplendent – Six Months in Sudan by Dr. James Maskalyk, or listening to the softness of a violin playing Amazing Grace as I pour over research on the DR Congo, Sudan and South Sudan, Chad, Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Central African Republic. Enjoying the music of my daughter’s choice as I make homemade Tandoori chicken and carefully build the layers of flavor into my chocolate for my Christmas truffles also figures into the happiness of life at Girl HQ.

Love is what matters. From it, goodness flows.

This isn’t a new discovery, not at all. Making room for love, in all its forms, seems to be the trick. Eliminating the baggage of negative choices, people, relationships (personal or professional,) and removing obstacles transformed 2012. Rather than chase flickers on the horizon, I enjoyed their light and wrote off negativity as the brief heat-lightning thunderstorms that light up a Summer sky.

The absence of love is all around us as well. It is the 21st Century and yet, governments don’t function with even a modicum of healthy determination. The United States sits on the brink of a “Fiscal Cliff” and our leaders are more concerned with stamping their feet like spoiled children than solving problems. Across the Western world, governments argue rather than legislate. Legislate the wrong things, or in the wrong way, and ignore reality.

The reality is this: we need new leaders, all across the spectrum. Stop working on Band-aids and start the triage for real solutions. Real planning. Real economic resolution. Real human rights discussions and understanding Equality means Equality, and that it is amoral to deny it to any one group – except for hardened criminals that face justice and are sentenced for their crimes.

Equality means immigration reform. And gay marriage. And no longer stacking the deck against our children by prioritizing teacher union leadership over teachers and students. It means developing ethical green energy that doesn’t import cobalt, copper, tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold from the warlords in Congo and slave labor in China. It means using our own natural resources first: be they solar and wind or natural gas, oil, and hydropower. It means accepting American workers and our environmental protections are the best in the world. It means accepting nothing is perfect or foolproof, and living with the consequences – because it is immoral to have green energy be just another NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) scheme. It means understanding corn ethanol production has disrupted the food supply, and that isn’t alright. Equality means giving equal and economically sane access to healthcare, jobs, and the marketplace. Freedom means freedom, not anarchy. It means understanding it’s good to have someone who ensures our buildings are safe, and airplanes are maintained, our food supply is clean, that animals in the food chain are treated humanely, and cleaning agents are properly labeled. Religious freedom means not allowing ignorance and bigotry to be pervasive, in our homes or in our government.

It means governance of, by, and for the people.

Let us be civilized. Where there is genocide, let us do what we can to stop it or prevent it. The Greatest Generation ended a genocide, at no small cost to themselves. Hundreds of thousands of Americans and her allies fought, died, sacrificed for the good of the world. It wasn’t just for America, or Europe, or any one nation or people. They did the right thing because that is what a nation of moral people do. They stand shoulder to shoulder and get to work. Our greatest ally, Israel, was born of the horror that was the Holocaust.

There is evil in this world, there is goodness. We must choose wisely and tell the truth. More right and wrong, less Left and Right.

In other words, choose love.

Media Lizzy