Editor’s Note: This column was written to appear in our Dec. 30 edition.
This strange and bewildering year is in our rearview mirror. I’m sure that many of you are feeling as I do, wiping your brow and breathing a huge sigh of relief to put behind us the uncertainties and stress of a year filled with a pandemic, racial injustice, destructive wildfires and the divisiveness of the presidential election.
As I welcome the arrival of a new year, I’m giving thanks for the swift development of a vaccine to protect us from COVID-19 and the actions of the new administration that will address the devastating economic impacts of the virus, the inequities of racism and climate change, and bring a measure of healing to our fractured country.
To ensure I make the most and best of 2021, I have been thinking of resolutions that I will try my utmost to carry out throughout the year. Oh yes, those pesky resolutions … eliminate the clutter in the house, eat healthier, exercise more, learn a new language and more. There are so many that fall by the wayside right from the start.
So as the new year arrives, I’m being more thoughtful and creative in developing my resolutions. I thought I’d share a few that I believe will not only make us all better people but also make our world a better place in which to live, not just for ourselves, but for others, whether they be neighbors or strangers.
Practice random acts of kindness. This is relatively easy to do and can result in warming the hearts of strangers as much as your own. My husband told me about one the other day that he witnessed and then was moved to carry on.
A couple with two young children were checking out at a Dollar Store with Christmas purchases. First, one credit card was declined and then a second, and they didn’t have enough cash to cover their purchases. A person in the line spoke up and said, “I’ll pay for them.”
The flustered family was relieved and so thankful to be the recipients of this random act of kindness. Witnessing this, my husband, next in line, was moved to tell the clerk that he wanted to pay for the woman’s purchases who had just paid for the family whose credit cards had been declined. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start a chain reaction of kindness such as this right here in our community?
Perhaps it would even result in outdoing the 900 strangers at a Minnesota Dairy Queen who opted to pay it forward for the car behind them, creating a mega chain of goodwill that lasted two and a half days!
Practice intentional acts of kindness. This can be done by giving thought to how you can help those less fortunate than you are on a long-term basis. Commit to someone in need or some organization whose mission it is to lift up people in need throughout the entire year and truly make a difference for their long-term wellbeing.
Need comes in as many forms as kindness does and doesn’t always require a financial commitment to address. Your time can be as valuable as your money. Think of those who have mental wellness, housing or food insecurity issues, or those who just need a shoulder to lean on for comfort.
Listen to those who have different opinions than yours. Truly open your ears and minds, and try to understand the points of view of others regardless of whether you ultimately agree with them or not. Learning from where their perspective comes may enable you to have empathy and compassion.
As the president-elect and vice president-elect take office this month, whether you voted for them or not, it is imperative that we understand our differences in order to heal the deep fractures that run through our country.
Think positively about what can be accomplished if we work together, whether or not we agree 100% on what needs to be done. Surely, there are some areas where our views meet those of people with whom we don’t always see eye to eye.
However we get there, let’s try to meet in the middle and move forward on eliminating racial injustice, creating a healthier earth for the generations that follow us and seeking compromise on other issues that impact us all. If thinking “one giant leap for mankind” is daunting to you, think “baby steps” as in the movie “What About Bob.”
If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it for putting your differences with anyone about anything into perspective.
Wishing you health, prosperity and agreement with your neighbors and strangers in the New Year!
Janet Heck Doyle is a retired CEO and attorney who has lived in Evergreen with her family for 20 years. She is involved with various nonprofit organizations in Evergreen and Jefferson County, and served eight years on the Evergreen Park & Recreation board.