New Years Resolutions

Gulfport   I can’t remember when there was so little on the news and the daily papers. I do the “Peoples’ Daily News” for a bunch of radio stations. Luckily, I’m one day ahead, already loaded in the chamber, because scouring the Times, Journal, and Washington Post, got me nothing.

I ended up passing the time reading BuzzFeed’s story, highlighted in a Times’ column called “**** the Gator” based in the Golden Triangle of Orange, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, an area and people, I know pretty well. It was a tragic story of a miscalculation by a young man trying to live life as best he could on the edge of what was available, whose miscalculation led to a big alligator killing him in the bayou abutting the marina and bar where he, his girlfriend, twin brother and others spent “years,” as his twin reported. This was the first gator killing in Texas in more than 150 years, but as habitat has been squeezed by expanding growth, there have now been several more since this ill-time, beer-soaked swim.

Makes you think. How lucky we often are, and despite how much all of us think we are masters of our own fate, how much the luck of the draw shapes our lives. My daughter gave me a testing kit for Christmas. You send them a tube filled with your spit after you register on-line and fill out their questionnaire over 15 or 20 minutes. Supposedly, they then get back to you and tell you how much you might be German or Irish or African-American or Native American or whatever. Scrolling page by page to answer the form though felt like health care Russian roulette. Every time I was able to check “No” on the boxes as one horrendous or unknown malady or disease or whatever after another was shot at me from the page, I felt like it was only a matter of time before one of them hit me. I also felt lucky or blessed or whatever you might want to call it when I got to the finish line and only had sleepwalking, migraines, and cholesterol lightly sticking to me over all my decades.

I like New Year’s resolutions. It’s like making a “to do” list for the year. I’m not confused that I’ll get it all done, but I like reminding myself what was on the list and forcing a bit of a reckoning on what lies before me. I enjoyed reading a psychologist’s advice recently on resolutions, where he tried to balance the need for self-discipline and control with compassion, generosity, and the like as the formula to achieve any of your resolutions in the future. I’ve got tons of discipline and self-control, but I like the notion, also common in organizing, that we celebrate the struggle along with the wins, recognizing the fight it takes to get there.

Mainly, I hope my luck – and yours – lasts through the next year, and that we are able to work hard enough to make it happen.

My companera sent me these notes this morning. They sound a bit like something from a Hallmark card, but that doesn’t take away their value, and how they might work as solid resolutions for living in the New Year: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To your community, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

And, to all of you, good health and good luck in the new year!

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Solid Resolutions for the New Year

Charles Blow

Charles Blow

Ocean Springs         Sometimes it can be embarrassing to live in Louisiana.   When it’s not the governor making a fool of us in service to ego and ambition or one of the Senators currying to prostitutes and another always turning tricks for oil companies, it’s someone like Phil Robertson, the duck man, leading the hater brigade and forcing the A&E channel to admit that it’s really not about principles, but it’s all about the money.   All of which makes it refreshing for me to read the op-ed Times’ columnist and Louisiana native, Charles Blow, prove regularly that one can come out of Louisiana with both a head and a heart.

Blow at year’s end reminisced about growing up poor in rural Louisiana and celebrating New Year’s with black-eyed peas for good luck and greens for good fortune, but he also shared his resolutions which are worth all of us heeding:

1. To stop treating politicians like sports stars, political parties like teams and our national debate like sport.

Politics is not a game. There are real lives hanging in the balance of the decisions made — or not made — by those in power. Often, those with the most to lose as a result of a poor policy move are the most vulnerable and most marginalized. Those folks need a voice, and I will endeavor to be that voice.

2. To force politicians to remember, with as much force and fervor as my pen can muster, that they are servants, not rulers.

A democracy is a government by the people, for the people. Politicians too often bend in the presence of power. They believe that it is they who possess power, rather than the people who elected them. And power and money are kissing cousins; you will rarely find one not cozied up to the other. Money is corruptive, and power addictive. Together they work against the greater good. That cannot stand.

3. To remember that justice is a natural aching of human morality.

In the core of most people is an overwhelming desire to see others treated fairly and dealt with honestly. That is not a party-line impulse but a universal one. I will do my best to highlight that basic quality. For instance, I believe that there will come a time when we will all look back at the brouhaha over same-sex marriage in disbelief and disgrace, and ask: Why was that even a debate?

4. To focus more fully on the power and beauty of the human spirit.

Regardless of their politics, the vast majority of the people I meet, when they can speak and listen and act of their own accord and not in concert with a group, are good, decent and caring people. Most work hard or want to. They love their families and like their neighbors. They will give until it hurts. They fall down, but they bounce back. They are just real people, struggling to get a bit and get by, and hoping to share a laugh and a hug with an honest heart or two along the way. That is no small observation and not one of little consequence. I believe that I can write more about those traits.

Those are my resolutions, ones I will strive to keep, ones I’ll reflect on even if I fall short. What are yours?

 

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