As 2015 comes to a close, I have to confess that it’s difficult to write a message of hope to the people I care about when even the Pope declares Christmas “a charade.” It’s difficult to acknowledge the pain and suffering without adding to the fear and despair that “the enemies of hope” want us to feel and act upon.

One thing is clear to me. Fear sells but it does not solve. Fear sells in advertising (i.e. “If you don’t use our hygiene products, you will end up reviled and alone”) and fear sells in politics (i.e. “There’s something evil going on out there, you’re all in peril and only I can protect you”), but fear does not solve anything. In fact, it perpetuates the original wrong. It plays on our basest human instincts, tempting us to become like those we fear. It attempts to keep us under its spell by blaming everything on external forces without asking us to assume any personal responsibility.

I am reminded of a familiar sentiment, noting that there will never be peace in the world until there is peace between the nations, and there will never be peace between the nations until there is peace in communities, and there will never be peace in communities until there is peace in our families, and there will never be peace in our families until there is peace in our own hearts. To only look accusingly outward is lazy and self-righteous. The solution, not unlike the problem, begins with us, which is actually fantastic news because it means each of us can do something about it.

So, while examining my own heavy heart during the holidays, I realized I need to learn to love better. I need to own my problems, issues and prejudices, despite the temptation to blame them on others. As for others’ imperfections, I need to be more patient and forgiving, which becomes easier as I own my imperfections. Finally, I need to see fear for what it is, an excuse to be less than I can be.

Thank you for letting me speak my mind and for listening. As George Bailey discovers in It’s A Wonderful Life, a person’s wealth can be counted in the quality of his friends. When I think about all of the people I am privileged to know, I figure I’m the richest man alive.

Good luck to you in 2016. May this year be your best year yet.

A friend of Juniper Capital