The Politics of It All: #ShareYourHope Shows What’s Really on Everyone’s Minds

A big takeaway from our #ShareYourHope event is that there are a few topics in particular that are on the forefront of everyone’s minds. While 2016 was an exceptionally tense year for humans, what has been reflected on our chalkboard is that they haven’t lost hope yet. In fact, hope was a recurring theme throughout the experiment. It’s nice to see that people have faith in what is to come of the future against all odds. Here’s what Bostonians are thinking about most:

Politics

People from all over the political spectrum participated in the event. Both Trump and Obama were written down as things that helped people get through this past year. 2016 helped many people recognize the importance of being continuously involved in politics, not just weighing in at the last leg of the race. When it comes to elections, America’s government is set up in a way that gives everyone a chance to speak up and share their opinions. But that only matters if people use their voices. This political cycle inspired many to take action, a theme that will hopefully continue into future elections and across all levels.

World Issues

America’s problems can seem pretty small when you take a step back and compare them to what the rest of the world is going through. Whether it was Americans or tourists commenting, global issues are definitely a topic that has gotten many people thinking in 2016. It seems like people have realized how important it is to stay updated on what is going on around the world, and how to do their part to help out. Some of the hopes for 2017 that go along with this theme include: free Tibet, see the world be a better place, peace, end hate, learn, peace for Aleppo and freedom for Palestine. An overwhelming amount of people wrote about peace, whether that be pertaining to the world or inner peace, as well as understanding and respect. It is exciting to see so many people recognize that there are improvements that we as human beings need to strive toward.

Current Events

Participants had a lot to say when it came to a particular set of localized topics as well. These are all things that many believe have made them better people from the inside out.

Something that people have been vocal about, especially during this past election cycle, is the legalization of marijuana. It can be a slightly contentious topic, especially between different generations, but according to our experiment it has helped several people get through 2016. Now that it is legal in MA, it will be interesting to see how different demographics interact with it and learn how people are using it.

2016 was a year in which many people spoke up and spoke out about self-help. Mental illness has been something that people have pushed aside and mostly kept to themselves about in the past. Many people do not recognize it within themselves, and therefore do not seek help, or feel ashamed of it because of this way of thinking. This can lead to pent-up issues down the road that can have a major effect on people’s lives. Fortunately, strides were made in 2016 that have opened the door to discussions about mental health. Celebrities such as Kristen Bell and JK Rowling, as well as the late Carrie Fisher, talked about how mental illness affects their daily lives and work in the public space. Acknowledging this topic is an important step in making it less taboo. Our board reflected this and showed that not only was recognizing the benefits of focusing on mental health something that got people through 2016, but it is also something they’re going to continue working on in 2017.

A couple of other topics that came up several times on both sides of the board were faith/religion and travel. These turbulent times, one way or another, relate back to religion for a lot of people. They are turning to it in a time of need, and hoping for religious freedom in parts of the world that are suffering from religious persecution. Religion might be an uncomfortable topic to speak about, but it provides hope when people need it the most. Part of making it a less awkward topic to talk about is understanding different cultures and societies, something that our participants are very open to. They seem to be looking for new experiences by way of travelling. In the past, travel was mainly looked at as a leisure activity, but now more than ever people are using it as a way of learning. People who engaged in our event cited travel as both something that got them through 2016, and something they hope to do in 2017. These two topics show how more and more people are open to learning about each other and truly accepting new ideas and ways of living.

This social experiment has given IM Boston new insight on the Boston community and where the city currently stands on important issues. Make sure to keep an eye out for more events like this in the future!

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