As the clock of the year that was 2017 winds down, I asked myself whether to focus on bidding adieu to 2017 or greeting 2018, or some combination of the two. Someone very close to me advised me to drop my usual cynicism and try to embrace hope for the coming year. That person was one of my two alter-egos and she has now taken up residence elsewhere. I wondered what I had written last year at this time, and went back to see, for I cannot remember yesterday, let alone a year ago. What I found was that I had re-posted my 2015 year-end post, and on reading it, I concluded that what I wrote two years ago says it all as well as anything else I could write, especially given my current outlook on the state of the world.
And so, back, with a few minor changes, for the third year in a row …
2016! 2017! 2018!!!
I do not quite understand why it is, but most of us welcome in the new year with great hope for the next 365 days, almost as if we believe that the slate we were using for the past 365 days was wiped clean at the exact moment the ball hit bottom in Times Square, and we are now starting afresh with new hopes, new dreams, a clean slate on which to write a new story, a better one. Okay, okay … I am not going to be the one to dash those dreams, those ethereal images that you are seeing with such joy. Life will see to that soon enough, probably when you awaken in the morning and turn on the news, pick up the morning newspaper, or boot up the computer.
Do you make resolutions at New Year’s? I do not, so I am always curious about people who do. Oh sure, I hope that I can do better at certain things than I have in the past, but that is pretty much a daily hope of mine. Do people who do make resolutions start thinking about their resolutions a week in advance? A month? I once had a friend who made his resolution on the morning of January 1st … same resolution every year … when he awakened with a massive hangover and resolved then and there to quit drinking, effective immediately. His resolution usually lasted for about 12 hours. Have you ever made a resolution and actually kept it throughout the year? I don’t think I personally know anybody whose resolution was anything other than a dim memory by January 31st, so I am curious if some people who do make resolutions actually do manage to keep to them.
I do not make resolutions, but I think about, based on the past year, what the year 2016 might bring. It would be lovely, and I am sure some say this is their hope for the new year, to think that within the next twelve months we will see peace and prosperity around the world, an end to wars in the Middle East, an end to racism and bigotry in our own nation, more love and tolerance, less hatred toward our fellow man, and an end to the highly annoying facebook memes that attempt to compress complex socio-political issues into a single sentence. Who wouldn’t love to see an end to ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations? These are dreams we could all share, even if we are divided on who should be sitting in the Oval Office But sadly,, when we look back a year from now, I am pretty sure those problems will still exist, others will have joined them, and people will still be … well, human.
Filosofa is not a cynic, contrary to what you may think. I am actually known in my circle of friends as quite the optimist … annoyingly to some. But I am a pragmatist and a realist. One of the readers of this blog commented yesterday that we need to say to ourselves, “okay, the world is a mess … now how do we fix it?” I like that attitude. So, while I do not make resolutions, I do have hopes. Unlike hopes for world peace, an end to all war, etc., my hopes are that people will start asking themselves “what can I do to make the world a little bit better?” And then start looking for answers. The answers are all around you, if you just realize what the question is. Many years ago, my answer to this question was, and still is, to treat everybody as human beings. These days, I try to make a difference by writing, in hopes that I might be able to make just one person think about things that matter. Most of us, realistically, are not in a position to bring about world peace. We cannot all be Mother Teresa or Gandhi. We cannot all be leaders of nations. But we can make small differences within our own small spheres of influence, in our community, in our neighborhood. We can volunteer one day a month at a homeless shelter or food pantry, we can help a neighbor who is struggling, we can donate unwanted clothing or food items to the poor. We can find ways to fight violence without resorting to more violence. We can talk a little bit nicer to people, say “good morning” and “thank you so much” to the young person who bags our groceries. Think that doesn’t make a difference? Think again.
So my hope for the new year is that we all try very hard to find the small things that we can do to help people we come into contact with every day. No, it will not end the conflict in Syria, it will not eradicate Iran’s enriched uranium supply, and it will not remove Donald Trump from the White House, but a lot of little deeds add up to making the world just a little bit better. You can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution … your choice.
In closing, I wish each and every one of you a year of peace within your own family and circle of friends, good health and that you be able to meet all of your needs. Happy New Year!