The Fourth of July finds us at the midpoint of 2021, a good time to see how well I’ve done in honoring New Year’s resolutions I made in January. To be frank, I probably wouldn’t remember the resolutions if I hadn’t bothered to write them down. I had listed them all in a column published at the start of the year.
I had a selfish reason for making my resolutions so public. The people who know about such things say that we have a better chance at keeping resolutions if we tell others about them. That extra measure of accountability, so the theory goes, might nudge us toward success.
I guess another reason I’ve been revisiting New Year’s resolutions this weekend is our celebration of a holiday devoted to the birth of the world’s greatest representative government. As I had mentioned last January, I decided to focus my resolutions this year on things that might make me a better citizen.
“Often, watching the news last year, I wondered aloud why ‘they’ don’t do more to fix things,” I had confessed back then. “I conveniently forgot that there’s no magic ‘they’ coming to the rescue. Change will have to come from ‘we,’ and that will have to include me.”
So how did I do with my resolutions aimed at better civic engagement? As with most New Year’s resolutions, it’s been a mixed bag.
I’d promised myself I’d add at least one more local arts agency to the ones I now financially support, since community concerts, plays and art exhibits can be places where we get away from politics for awhile and find common ground in shared experiences. That resolution was an easy lift. As pandemic restrictions ease, I look forward to reconnecting with more of these cultural events now that public gatherings are more possible.
I had also resolved to add at least one more newspaper or magazine to those I already support as a subscriber. I get a lot of free content online, but if we want quality journalism, we have to pay for it. That, too, was a pain-free resolution to keep. I subscribed to four more periodicals, and it didn’t cost much to do it.
My resolution to support local businesses more actively has also been made easier by the lifting of COVID-19 rules. It’s felt good to walk the aisles of neighborhood stores without so much of the anxiety that shadowed 2020.
Healthy local businesses boost my property values, sustain government services, employ my neighbors and support local nonprofits. As I noted earlier this year, if I want these businesses around for me, I have to be around for them.
But one of my big resolutions remains unfulfilled. I had resolved to volunteer with at least one more local nonprofit. Shame on me for not following through.
The year isn’t done, though, so let me resolve again to make that a reality.