A new year. The notion of a fresh beginning holds much appeal today. Looking back at 2017 makes me feel sick and depressed. it certainly was a year worth forgetting, if only we could.
Leo Tolstoy once remarked that everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. True life is lived when tiny changes occur, he said. Tiny changes.
Every year at this time we make promises to ourselves. Resolutions. Contemplating the promise of a fresh new year seduces us into believing that we can try yet again to fix those personal flaws that we know would make us a better person. I have gone through this exercise every year for as long as I can remember. But that’s internal changes, personal. What do these little personal fixes have to do with the world outside me, the one that delivered us a year that we would rather forget?
Barack Obama told us, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Who, me? How? Maya Angelou had the right idea. She said, “I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”
I can do this. I can speak to people rather than walking by them as if they don’t matter. Especially those people. Those others. 2017’s great irony is that our president’s multiple efforts to divide us have in fact united us. Some of us, not all. So this is where I will begin. This will be my main resolution for this new year. I will listen to and strive to understand those other people, the ones whose views amaze, frustrate, and yes, even frighten me.
I predict that I will come to realize that they are not my enemy. They are my family. And I love them.