It’s resolution season and I already feel defeated. You? How will this year be different?
My daughter and her husband manage expectations with their three young girls at Christmas. Learning from the wedding tradition of “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” they limit the presents they give (not Santa) to “Something to read, something to wear, something needed, something wanted.” Less poetic, maybe, but it gets the job done.
What if we adopted a similar scheme for New Year’s resolutions and slimmed down our list? It might bone up our resolve. Here’s a suggestion: Something holy, something good, something beautiful, something true. More reason than rhyme, but at least it highlights spiritual virtues. And since this column often connects the private and the public in faith, consider resolutions in these realms that account for social networks and institutions, not just personal improvement.
Something holy. Participate in, serve with and give to a religious congregation. The widespread notion that you can be “spiritual but not religious” suggests you can be close to God and be a good person without engaging with other people in rituals of worship and communal life. That’s a little like learning a foreign language from a book or an app and never conversing or sharing everyday life with people who speak that language natively. Strengthen a church or synagogue by your involvement this year.
Something good. The next three will have similar themes. This one is ethical. Pick one subject or issue you care about personally and that affects others, too. Neighborhood watch, street and sidewalk improvement, cultural intelligence in schools, environmental justice. Find out who else is doing something about these things and join them. There are a handful of nonprofits for any of these issues who would love to help check this resolution off your list.
Something beautiful. Ugliness is a blight on the soul as well as the community. Cultivate beauty as an act of resistance to our throwaway society and lift our collective spirit at the same time. Beauty involves harmony, things fitting together well, like a row of pansies, a clump of crepe myrtles, treble and bass clefs, a clean car or a colorful mural. Join the Arboretum or one of our amazing museums. Buy season tickets to Dallas Summer Musicals or the Dallas Theater Center.
Something true. Limit social media if you find yourself being entertained by fake news just because you like it, whether it meets standards of truth or not. Support real journalism and the institutions that foster it. Subscribe to the Dallas Morning News and D Magazine. Read The Advocate (check). Give to the Dallas Free Press. It can’t be said often enough: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.” We will not heal what divides us as a nation if we don’t have a common commitment to the truth.
Old habits may die hard, but new ones like these give life to us all.