A fresh beginning / by Paul Choy

The start of a brand new year always feels like the perfect time to make a positive change in our lives. It’s an opportunity to sweep away the cobwebs of the previous year and make a clean start for the year ahead.

When I look back on 2017, a year when my camera took me literally all over the world, I am left with a resounding sense of just how much we all have in common with each other, no matter where we are from.

Over the course of 2017, I was fortunate enough to meet some of the most incredible people, from New York to Tokyo, and pretty much everywhere between. What struck me most was that despite encountering so many incredibly different customs and languages, the aspirations of the people I met were often remarkably similar.

And yet, 2017 also feels like a year when division became a global reality. All around the world, people choose to turn their backs on their fellow human beings, often based on nothing more than where someone was born. Discussions of understanding and empathy have been replaced with talk of travel bans and walls.

But as we enter a brand new year, I can’t help but think it doesn’t have to be that way. Each of us can choose what type of world we want to live in.

Just as we can choose to ignore the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves, we can also choose not to. We can choose to stand by, or we can choose to make a difference, no matter how small that difference might be.

So as I look forward to the brand new year ahead, I choose it to be a year when I turn my back on division, rather than people. It will be a year when I refuse to allow others to tell me I should only care about those who speak the same language as I do, or follow the same religion, or same customs. It will be a year when I choose to make a difference.