Social media is alive with the clicks of people decrying 2016 for taking yet another beloved celebrity from this life. And maybe that's just a part of dealing with the deluge of topical events that pass by our screens unstoppably under the banner of "news": To take in word of an event (Carrie Fisher's untimely passing), then try to contextualize it (2016 feels like an awful year), and then express that feeling in a public forum (#2016sucks) -- before moving on to whatever happens tomorrow.
But if we are to end 2016 on the best note we can -- or, indeed, if we are not to embark on a 2017 that somehow feels even worse -- then it is up to each of us to channel that feeling into something useful. Otherwise, we are only wallowing in our own sorrows. After all, 2016 is no more self-aware than a rock. If it makes us sad or angry, then so it does because of what we have committed -- and what we have omitted.
To anyone who is truly saddened by Carrie Fisher's passing, and who truly doesn't want next year to be worse, then the simple answer is to do something good, no matter how small.
Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been Princess Leia's "only hope", but in honor of Carrie Fisher, any one of us can create a glimmer of hope for someone who needs it -- especially for a young person.
It truly is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. For those who wish to do something close to home, organizations like YESS serve the many needs of vulnerable children and their families in Central Iowa. They can use our light.
For others, it feels rewarding to join the struggle against vast forces of evil. Organizations like Catholic Relief Services, the ICRC, Save the Children, and the UN High Commission for Refugees are struggling to keep up with the needs of children who are on the run from violence, warfare, and terrorism in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and too many other places to reasonably count.
The scale of the problems in the real world is even bigger than what can be portrayed in film -- even the films of "Star Wars". And we can easily feel too small to do anything about it. But if we can find the motivation to express grief about a celebrity death on Facebook, then we should compel ourselves to do something good in the real world we inhabit.