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Dreams and Hopes for a New Year in the Eighth Continent

Eighteen year old Ben Breedlove died on Christmas Day, leaving behind a touching video on the heart condition that took his life.  This young man, who had struggled since age four with the fear of a young death, used social media to reach out to his friends and make new friends.  Ben created the popular OurAdvice4You channel on YouTube in November 2010. He would give out relationship advice to his viewers and interview family members and friends. He launched his second channel, BreedloveTV, in May 2011 where he would answer questions about dating, relationships and advice.  His third channel TotalRandomness512 posted the two-part video, This is my story. The video has gone viral with over a million views.

I watched Ben’s video and read the comments of his parent’s, inspired to try to imitate them with a few New Year’s Resolutions…

  • I will empower my children to innovatively express their creative spark.
  • I will make room for conversation and dialog to allow my children to challenge my way of thinking.
  • I will respect my children’s use on the eighth continent of the internet and its guiding principles; their right to connect, to speak, to control their information and protect their privacy.
  • I will model the emotional intelligence to increase their joy, ramp up their happiness, and create a home where they find peace.
  • I will work to make our family a place that makes it possible for each person to be strong and resilient in a world that includes suffering, set-backs, and even the sad reality of the death of young people.
  • I will make space for them to pursue their passions and lead others.
  • I will honor their personal mission even as it changes.

I am reading Jeff Jarvis’s Public Parts, a treatise on how sharing in the digital age improves the way we work and live. He likens the transformation brought on by the internet and sites such as Facebook with the changes brought by the Guttenberg press. Public Parts argues persuasively that there is reason to hope in the good things possible in this new sense of publicness. While the voices that advocate a protection of privacy and copyright must be heeded, Jarvis makes a compelling argument that the internet – what some have referred to as the “eighth continent” – has a future that can be viewed with optimism rather than fear.

Ben Breedlove’s video and Jeff Jarvis’s book share something in common; the virtue of hope.  Ben’s is centered not merely in a spiritual faith that eternity holds promise, but also a hopeful embrace that humanity will treat his gift of self with empathy and compassion. Social science has begun to illustrate that humanity, at its core, is wired more for attachment, affection, and sociability, than it is for aggression, violence, and self-interest. While harmful utilitarian capacities are within us, they are not what drive the majority of our decision making nor actions.  Wikipedia succeeded where many thought it would fail. The percentage of vandalism on its sites are minimal, and the corrections relatively quick.

While our economy continues to restructure itself in painful ways, and our institutions awkwardly learn transparency, I find much reason to hope. May that hope spill over into your family.

In celebration of New Years, the e-book version of Writing a Purpose Statement is available for download to your PC, Kindle, Nook, or IPad for only $8.79.  Take advantage of an additional 25% off with the ONEMORETHING. Enjoy interviewing your teen about their childhood dreams, their values, and their sense of purpose in the world as you set resolutions for the coming year!



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