Resolutions have never really been part of my observance of the new year. I’m not alone; StatisticsBrain found that 42 percent of Americans don’t make resolutions at all, and 17 percent do so only every once in a while. Of the 41 percent who frequently do, only 9.2 percent feel they’re successful in keeping those resolutions.
Not great odds. Why make a promise you’re unlikely to keep?
Psychologists say it’s better to build habits than make resolutions, especially when those resolutions are vague or unrealistic. Small habits, like flossing your teeth, are much easier to make your focus than something like losing 100 pounds or paying off your debt.
But this is the time for unrealistic hopes, is it not? While I won’t make resolutions for myself, here are a few for others … not that they’ll keep them either.
👩🏼💼 Hillary Clinton—The realistic: Play with the grandkids. Walk in the woods of Chappaqua.
The unrealistic: Don’t mention Russia or the 2016 election. Don’t give Bill well-deserved smacks upside the head. Don’t dwell on the past.
🤬 Donald Trump—The realistic: Keep on being you.
The totally unrealistic: Step away from the phone and Twitter and stop needlessly antagonizing other leaders and private citizens. Let others take credit, especially when they were the ones responsible for something positive. Don’t use demeaning nicknames for those with whom you disagree, especially when they have access to a nuclear arsenal. Don’t get hung up on petty jealousies. Lay off the McDonald’s, KFC and Diet Coke (yeah, Diet Coke doesn’t help when you consume that many calories anyway).
👽 Vladimir Putin—The realistic: Keep looking like a big creep. Or an alien.
The unrealistic: Keep your shirt on and don’t make your opponents disappear.
💣 Kim Jong Un—The realistic: I … got nothin’. You’re not exactly a realistic guy.
The unrealistic: Maybe try not blowing up the world. Just a thought.
🐍 Assorted sexual harassers—The realistic: Just keep on thinking no means yes.
The unrealistic: Keep your blasted hands and any other body parts to yourself.
But enough for those people. What about the rest of us? These aren’t resolutions, really, but goals and hopes. Maybe we can at least try to do some of this.
Seek truth. Don’t take what someone says as the gospel truth, no matter how much you might admire that person. Instead, put confirmation bias aside and check it out. Forget about checking with insular sources and focus on those that cover a variety of claims from multiple people with different ideologies and that link to original sources to show how they came to their ruling, based on facts, not ideology. If that “fact-checker” you love spends the bulk of its time on one party and supposedly proving the bias of other fact-checkers, you might want to look elsewhere. Scratch that: Do look elsewhere, full stop.
Continue to be vigilant about the truth: Check any information from questionable sources before passing it on, and take what you hear from partisan sources with many grains of salt. If a claim seems outlandish and/or a hyperpartisan fever dream, it most likely isn’t true. War on Christmas? Nope. Edward Snowden anchored a Russian plot to discredit Hillary Clinton? Not likely. The mainstream media are out to destroy the United States? Um, no; they’re out to do their job as part of a free press.
Be realistic. This country has weathered a lot in its nearly 250 years of existence, and it can handle what’s going on in D.C. now, but if we can’t agree on the basics of reality, we don’t have much chance. Over the weekend, for example, I saw the claim that the stock market from 2009-2016 was in horrible shape, not recovering till this year. That would certainly be news to all the stock-market analysts, traders, and business journalists who covered the Dow and other markets during that time, with the Dow at 7,949.09 on Jan. 20, 2009, and 19,732.40 on Jan. 20, 2017. That bull market started in March 2009 and has continued since then. Hardly a horrible performance, but the hyperpartisan apparently believe it was. Don’t ignore reality for what serves your political beliefs.
Be kind. While it may make you feel better about yourself in the moment to put down others based not on who they are as a person but on what they believe, who they associate with, or physical characteristics that they have no control over, in the long run it does damage to all of us. Among other things, it coarsens the dialogue and makes it harder for us to get to a place where we can come together on solutions that benefit more people. Sure, it might be nice to keep the good things for yourself and your friends, but that’s a sure way to sow discord. Winning is not everything, despite what you may have been led to believe.
Instead of adhering to the idea that you’re superior to anyone who, well, isn’t you or like you, try to look at others with no preconceived notions; they’ll eventually prove themselves worthy or unworthy all on their own. Until then, maybe treat fellow humans as humans. You know, that whole Golden Rule thing.
Calm down. Is it really necessary to get upset over every tiny little thing? Are you so blinded by hyperpartisanship that you can’t tell when a writer is making a good-natured joke? (Yes, we’ve been getting letters (unsigned, of course) about John Brummett’s recent nuanced column about Hallmark movies, and these people are highly perturbed that he would dare denigrate such fare. He’s just evil! Of course, he wouldn’t be if he weren’t liberal …)
🃏 🃏 🃏 🃏
I can hope for a lot, but I know that the sort of behavior we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years will take a lot of time to correct, and only if there is an actual desire to change.
Sadly, many don’t seem to possess that desire. ’Cause, ya know, they’ve been persecuted for so long by having to allow others to express their views, practice their own religion, and all that other stuff that comes from being part of a free nation protected in part by a free press.
Don’t forget, we at the Voices page need your letters. If you haven’t had a letter published by us in the past 30 days, send us something of fewer than 300 words, to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Voices, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ar 72203, or, better yet, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our form. Let your voice be heard!
And with the impending release of Lake Superior State University’s Banished Words list, don’t forget to send me the words that annoy the bejesus out of you, either in the comments here, or in an email to email@example.com.