Interfaith Youth Core
A Muslim Answers the Question: “What Can We Do About It?”
/ January 12, 2021
During the last hour of 2020, my 14-year-old, Adam, asked flatly, “Why do we do New Year’s Eve. Isn’t it just like any other day? What is the point?”
I smiled, but I didn’t answer right away. It was such an Adam question—and it was a fair one.
We were preparing for a quiet night in, just my husband, our three sons, and me, all already in pajamas. We were tired from the long day and from the weight of the year, but it felt important to stay up and officially say goodbye to 2020 together. Our 10-year-old, Musa, was joyfully arranging an assortment of sparkling juices, desserts, and a jar of sprinkles.
Adam looked at me for a response.
“That’s a good question,” I finally said. For our Muslim family, January 1 is not a holy day, as it is for many of our Catholic family members. But it is an opportunity to pause, reflect on the past year, and show gratitude for it. Yes, to his point, we can and should do this throughout the year. But, I told him, what’s special about New Year’s Eve is that we reflect together—not just in our home but with a broader community that includes our family and neighbors and people around the world.
My answer was enough to get us to midnight, but his words stayed with me. After a year full of heartache, loss, and plain confusion, I’ve gotten used to fielding a lot of my sons’ questions. When are we going back to school? When can I hang out with my friends? Why won’t people wear masks? How many people have died? When will this pandemic end? When will police stop killing Black people? Why is our president lying? Why is this election even a contest?
And, perhaps the most important question: What can we do about it?