The dawn of a new year is upon us. As we set New Year’s resolutions, we now have to determine our level of commitment to fulfilling those goals. Gyms are full of eager members seeking to improve their physical health. Books are flying off the shelves as voracious readers seek to expand their knowledge. People are busy striving to improve themselves each day. 

But what would happen if we resolved to make this time of physical improvement and intellectual growth extend throughout an entire calendar year? What if we collectively decided to dismiss partisan politics and made a concerted effort to find common ground—or at least resolutions rooted in compromise during a presidential election year? 

We do not have to allow politics to further divide us from one another or to distract us from improving our entire city, region, state or nation. This is not to suggest tacit conformity of opinion, but rather an interest in allowing people to express their differences without maligning another human being. What would happen if we truly sought first to understand rather than to be understood? What if we had the courage to have candid conversations regarding the most pertinent issues in our respective lives and took the time to listen to our neighbors’ perspectives regarding those very same issues? What if, instead of seeking to be “right,” we actually took time to learn the value of civil discourse? 

We should not become so isolated from the perspective of others that we only seek a response from those in our own echo chambers. What common good could ever derive from a belief based on finite emotions rather than substantiated, categorically corroborated evidence? I guess I just aspire for us to embrace civil debate, rooted in facts, irrespective of bias. Perhaps I am either too optimistic or naive. Nevertheless, I would rather err on the side of hope. 

This coming year can be exciting. We can choose to live purposefully and improve intentionally. Whether you are starting a new career, beginning a new assignment or embarking on a new adventure, you can choose to adjust to the rapidly changing world by remaining true to yourself. Engage in meaningful tasks that promote the values near and dear to your heart. Strengthen your resolve to identify ways to support the general welfare of others. Be emotionally present with your family, friends and loved ones. These simple tasks are far too often neglected. 

We need to find a way to demonstrate our affection and compassion for a world truly in need of love. Despite all the commercialism and materialism of November and December, those final months of the year have a way of reminding us of who and what really matters in life. Improving a broken world requires us to bring the same empathy and joy into January and February as we do during the holiday season. We do not have to wait on someone else to change the world. We can each choose to do our part to spread joy, show respect and demonstrate humility year-round. If we chose to make this year different, perhaps we would be able to disagree without being disagreeable and we would appreciate the value of a different perspective. If we chose to serve the world around us, perhaps we would feel less isolated and we would find value in meaningful relationships. 

Each new year presents us with unique challenges, life events and opportunities. We will face adversity and we will not always initially know how to resolve those matters. But, by building community through meaningful relationships, we may discover new ways to solve problems because our experiences. 

While there may be nothing new under the sun, each one of us travels our own unique journey. By committing ourselves to learning more from others and accepting the fact that we don’t have the answers to every question, our humility will make us more tolerant of the diversity around us. 

This can be a year filled with discovery or another year full of disarray. This presidential year could be filled with rancor toward another person’s ideology or a year full of respect for an individual’s autonomy. Ultimately, the choices we make during these first two months will set a foundation for the year to come. Let us choose unity over division, peace over strife, and love over hate. 2024 is here, and our time is now. Let this beautiful journey commence. 

Author

  • Patrick Miller

    A passionate local educator, Past President and current executive officer of Amarillo Branch NAACP, Patrick writes in every issue about education, faith and forward momentum.

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