Most people feel compelled to make New Year's resolutions. It can cause a lot of anxiety as we think about what we want to accomplish versus what we think we will accomplish.
Year after year, most people make quiet resolutions to themselves or to friends right at the moment they gulp a glass of champagne to celebrate the midnight hour. They do that because they know revealing their resolution to drunken party goers will never be remembered the next day.
I believe that unless people clearly state their resolutions to many sober people the chances are slim that they will keep them. I speak from experience…
But I also believe there is some nobility to just giving the idea of making commitments some thought. It is important to evaluate your current circumstances, and then to contemplate what could be. We all spend too much time living in the moment, rushing around meeting deadlines, trying to make everyone, and especially ourselves, happy, and forgetting to appreciate how lucky we Americans are.
We take our family, our neighbors, our friends, our community and our country for granted. We take our planet and our faith for granted. We too often make poor choices and order our priorities poorly. We are human, and should recognize that we are flawed, but there is always room for improvement.
So when turning points like New Years Eve come along in our lifetimes, we should take the opportunity to look inside, evaluate our existence, and exercise a little humility and introspection. Our lifespan is such an insignificant moment in the history of humankind, and those years, that 50 to 100 year window in history, has been, by far, the greatest and most productive period in the history of human existence.
On New Years Day it will have been 244 years since some very brave and brilliant people declared independence from Great Britain and began an experiment in governing unlike any before or since. Eighty-five years later we suffered an internecine war to free the slaves and nearly destroyed America. One hundred years ago America passed the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Five years later we gave Native Indians citizenship. Seventy-five years ago American soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to liberate Europe. Fifty-five years ago America passed the Civil Rights Act. Fifty years ago America put a man on the Moon.
Beyond running water, heated and air conditioned homes, grocery stores stuffed with fresh vegetables and meat, advanced communication and transportation systems, ubiquitas educational opportunities, we also have longer and healthier lives than any of those who lived on Earth before us. Now we can simply speak to our cell phones to access the largest library of information ever devised.
Americans live in the most diversified culture on Earth. We enjoy the benefits of all of the flavors and traditions of people from every corner of the planet. This is an achievement that has never been equalled by any previous human endeavor. For thousands of years, under hundreds of empires, no humans have ever had it so good as you and me and all of our friends and families that have come before us.
Making resolutions to improve ourselves is nice, but if we just resolved to be more gracious and more grateful, we would be making promises we can actually keep.