by Craig Ruvere
As the holiday season comes to a close, the start of a new year is on the horizon.
For many of us December 31st is synonymous with gatherings in Time Square – where a star-studded ball makes its 70 foot decent before thousands of onlookers cheer “Happy New Year!” at the stroke of midnight.
But the start of a new year should mean more than just purchasing a new desk calendar. It should be a time to reflect on the previous year and re-evaluate where we’re going in the future.
The beginning of a new year has become one of the world’s oldest holidays. It all started with the Babylonians, who first celebrated the day some 4,000 years ago. And though the timing and practices have been altered some over the years, it’s still a cause for celebration to millions of people all over the globe.
The Babylonians are also credited with creating a tradition that’s still practiced today – the New Year’s resolution. A typical Babylonian resolution might consist of returning borrowed farm equipment to your neighbor, but times have changed and the resolutions have evolved to include more applicable staples such as losing weight or quitting smoking.
When trying to define the word “resolution” such statements include “a resolving to do something” or “a course of action determined or decided on.” But when you truly think about what the New Year’s resolution truly represents, it’s nothing more than an alteration of our habitual behaviors.
Take a minute then to reflect on the fact that we turn to one day of the year to alter the way in which we carry ourselves through this world. It begs the question why changing those nasty habits is not something that occurs all year long.
Survey’s have indicated that the most common New Years’ resolutions year after year are to get more physically fit, quit smoking or drinking, get out of debt or get more organized. Sound familiar? But the reality is that New Years’ resolutions have become trite and meaningless – typically expiring a few days after they’re pledged.
Society is just not willing to commit to resolutions that hold any real value for anyone – including ourselves it appears. But why do resolutions not consist of something more substantial – something more valuable to not only our life but the lives of those around us?
Why do you never hear people resolving to abolish prejudices against those different than us? Is that not as important as losing a few pounds? Why not resolve to respect our neighbors as we would ourselves? Certainly tolerance can’t be that hard to carry out through the year. And what about our children? Isn’t it about time we tried to reestablish the guidance that so many young people are missing today instead of allowing them to follow the cookie-cutter molds the media creates?
Aren’t these pledges worth raising a glass to at the beginning of a new year? Shouldn’t they hold greater validity than a string of broken promises that many of us forget we even made? Or is the New Year really just about changing the calendar?
The beginning of a new year brings to all of us the element of hope that anything is possible. In fact centuries ago it was believed the start of a new year should coincide with Spring – a rebirth of nature signaling a rebirth within ourselves. But even though our new year begins on the 1st of January, it’s still a time for a new beginning, a time of excitement when dreams and imaginations tend to dance around even the most cynical of hearts.
But what if we could truly change things? What if we used this time of reflection to make a difference in a world so reluctant to see beyond their own needs and desires? Maybe then peace would truly be something our children might see in their future; hatred would be limited to lima beans; and technology would be something benefiting our lives rather than running them.
There is undoubtedly a way to make things better in life – it just depends on how much of our own habitual behaviors we’re willing to compromise in order for everyone to prosper.
We’re only given one life on this earth, and I can’t imagine wasting our short time here not trying to make things better. So this year no matter where you might be when the clock strikes midnight, I ask you to make your resolutions wisely for just maybe, together, we can change things.
Happy New Year!