In April, we Minnesotans celebrate spring. We wait impatiently for melting snow, sunshine, rising temperatures, and Robins on the front lawn to warm us after a long winter chill. We also commemorate a number of other things to help us raise our awareness. April is Parkinson Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Autism Awareness Month, among others. In April, we mark Allergy Awareness Week, National Soil Conservation Week, and Arts and Culture Week. World Health Day, Global Youth Service Day, and Earth Day are also celebrated in April, along with Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).
Sometimes, because there are so many of them, these commemorative months, weeks and days become invisible; they blend into the wallpaper of our every day lives. People wonder why we need to have so many of them. When taken together, they’re a bit overwhelming, but for each particular group, the day or week or month is singular. It’s important to pay attention to these commemorative times in order to be aware of the strengths and needs in the world, so that we can be more aware of the individuals and groups around us, to celebrate the diversity in the world, to eliminate the hate in it, and to make it a more inclusive place. If each of us got to know our neighbors just a little bit better, picked just one thing to be passionate about, to celebrate, to help people become more aware of, the world would be a better place for all of us.