2016. If this year really was a baby wearing a top hat and sash, it should probably also have a comic conversation bubble that reads, ‘Hold on to your butts!” In an election year and in the wake of some pretty tumultuous world events, my resolutions are of a less aerobic nature this year. Of course, I will always use January 1st to kick-start an exercise routine but in my eyes, there are a lot more important things to focus on than my jeans size right now. So here they are, so that I can’t take them back.
- I will not be afraid. Bad things happen in the world and with increasing frequency. I don’t know the perfect answer to defeating terrorism or stopping mass shootings. I don’t think that most of the politicians do either. But I know this: I can only choose the actions and feelings of one person—me. So when I walk down the street, I will do so without fear. Life is too precious to waste a second of it waiting for it to end.
- I will be kind. In the age of social media, half-formed opinions and snark seem to rule the day. It means nothing to insult someone from behind a keyboard in the safety of your living room. Instead, I will state my views, if necessary, with kindness and compassion for other viewpoints. I can’t think of a single time that someone’s opinion has been changed by brute force. Conversation, though, is a powerful tool. I don’t know about you, but I don’t willingly engage with people in conversation who start from a place of aggression. Listening is as important as talking; this is something that I struggle with.
- I will educate myself. I love the brevity and expediency of social media and the Internet as much as the next person, but I feel like limiting myself only to short snippets of information about complex subjects is as bad as no information at all. You know the phrase, ‘I know just enough to be dangerous’? I see an entire generation of dangerously under-informed people unwilling to read more than two paragraphs about anything going on in the world. Long form journalism is a gift and we need to take advantage of it.
- I will be conservative. Now don’t misinterpret this as a political stance. For me, being conservative means taking only what I need, not what I think I might want. It means using all of the produce that I buy each week and not buying more that goes to waste. It means saving more and spending less. It means savoring small moments instead of just looking forward to big ones. I will recycle, walk instead of drive, use reusable bags and turn off the lights. I’ll make sure that I appreciate my surroundings.
- I will volunteer. The middle class is shrinking, while poverty is on the rise. I don’t have excessive amounts of money to give but I do have time. I want to help others, whether that’s reading to someone in the hospital or donating a bag of food to a local animal shelter or picking up trash along the side of the road; I will try to do whatever I can to help my fellow man. That doesn’t have to mean donating a whole day at a time to an organization. It could be as simple as volunteering for an event at church or offering a ride to an elderly neighbor. I know that if we all did one thing to help someone, even weekly, that it would make a huge difference in our community.
I suppose that these are more than my resolutions; they are my challenges to you. If we all did these things, we could have conversations instead of fights, communities instead of just housing developments. If we could give each other a little bit of grace each day, then the world would be a better place. As Michael Jackson said, I’ll start with the man in the mirror.