Here we are again, another new year. It seems like I finally got used to writing 2022 and it’s already 2023. A fresh start. A year older and perhaps wiser.

As I reflect on 2022 from my home office (a basement storage room converted only by the addition of office equipment and imagination), I find myself with mixed feelings about the year. I’m grateful that for me, personally, there were no major negative incidents and, in that sense, 2022 was more refreshing, calm and grounded than previous years. 

But many negative things did happen in the world in 2022. War and the desire for peace continue to make the headlines. Coming out of a global pandemic, our “new normal” does not seem to be filled with more love and kindness. We could use less hate, anger and suffering. But how can you and I start to create a better “new normal,” one that represents love, peace, kindness, respect and thoughtfulness? 

At a dinner party recently, a friend of mine announced that she was working on being kinder and gentler, at which we all laughed and proceeded to make fun of her—in a kind and gentle way, of course. But I have great admiration for the conscious effort to be kinder and gentler. It requires us to pause before we speak, to be more likely to praise than to criticize, to go out of our way to help someone, to decide to put others before ourselves. Being kinder and gentler requires a conscious choice to be our best selves and takes much more effort (for most of us, anyway). But the rewards are far greater than the effort. Those around us, our communities of family and friends, work colleagues and neighbours, can all be positively impacted by our choice to be kinder and gentler. 

Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples,” and her words are echoed in this quote by the Dalai Lama: “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.”

Last year, the Canada and Bermuda Territory launched Learning Pathways, a course created by International Headquarters in response to General Brian Peddle’s Call to Mission to “be ready, be engaged and take responsibility.” Learning Pathways provides teaching on the foundation for engaging with community, using an integrated mission and faith-based facilitation approach. The course links biblical and personal reflection, theology, practical application and readings with everyday life and ministry. 

Learning Pathways helped me reflect on how I operate in the world, how I learn and how I lead, through setting spiritual, value-driven goals, and by helping me be more intentional in engaging in my community. I found the course stimulating and it challenged me in new ways, which I believe will help me create my new normal.

Will you choose to create a kinder and gentler “new normal” in 2023 and in the years to come? Can we collectively make an impact on hate, anger, exploitation, inequality and, yes, world peace? I believe so. We must try. 

For more information regarding Learning Pathways, visit

Claire Dunmore is the community engagement secretary in the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

Photo: Remains/iStock via Getty Images Plus



On Friday, February 3, 2023, David Hallam said:

We certainly do need a more gentle world, one in which we learn to love instead of hate, thank you for your inspired word.

On Thursday, January 12, 2023, Christine Dunmore said:

Thanks Claire for that lovely message and little insight into your work.

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