Our son normally attends college out of state, but last year, because of the pandemic, he stayed home with us and took classes online. We watched the news together each night, which was a daily reminder of the broken world I’m leaving him. It nudged me to think more about what I might do to make it less broken.
I’m just one person, and I can’t hope to fix everything, or even most things. But at the root of all cynicism is the thought that because you can’t do everything, then you shouldn’t do anything. The whole idea of New Year’s resolutions is that small changes, embraced individually, can advance broader good.
For my own resolutions this year, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to better nurture my small corner of life. As much wiser people concluded long ago, the best change often starts locally.
With that in mind, I resolve to add at least one more arts agency to the ones I financially support. As 2020 amply demonstrated, too much of our daily lives is consumed by politics. We need common spaces where we can share fellowship with each other without regard to party. Museums, theaters and concert halls can offer those safe spaces, and they’ve been especially stressed this year because of the pandemic. I’ll try to help.
I also resolve to become a subscriber to at least one more newspaper or magazine. I already subscribe to the paper you’re now reading, and I get another paper delivered each day, too. I read lots of other free content online, but if I want reliable journalism, the lifeblood of a healthy democracy, I should do more to pay for it.
I resolve, as well, to volunteer with at least one local nonprofit. I often find excuses not to do this. But my children are pretty much grown, and I’m at a point in my life when I have the ability to give back. Often, watching the news this year, I wondered aloud why “they” don’t do more to fix things. 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.
I’m resolving to pay even more attention in the coming year to supporting local businesses. I’ve tried to strengthen my ties with stores and restaurants in my neighborhood during the pandemic.
Even after COVID-19 is history, they’ll still need my help. These are the establishments that make investments near my home, boosting my property values. They’ve also been lifelines when the pandemic forced us to stay close to home. If I want them to be around for me, I have to be around for them.
That’s how I’ll try to make 2021 a better year. I challenge you to make your own resolutions. My children, and the rest of their generation, are depending on us.