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Sat, May

2023:  I Resolve to… [No, Really I Do]

VOICES

 

ACCORDING TO LIZ - As the New Year tip-toes in many of us have made resolutions, a list of commitments to improve our and the lives of others in 2023. 

To fulfill them, we will need to have resolution to face the challenge of keeping them. To gird up our loins and plunge, once more, into the breach, each and every day. 

However, people’s expectations for themselves are often higher than they can reasonably hope to achieve. This tends to lead to back-sliding a few weeks or even days into the New Year and, in a fit of recrimination, sinking back deeper into the state they desired to overcome. 

Everyone has a tendency to beat themselves up but, rationally, this is never an effective behavior. 

Instead, how about if people choose to be kind to themselves? 

Kindness has a habit of being contagious. So, if you’re kind to yourself and generate excess kindness it should naturally overflow into the lives of those around you. 

Taking care of oneself, now that’s an excellent resolution. And since you have a vested interest in it succeeding, the resolve required will be less overwhelming. 

Humans are born with a desire for love, respect and higher meaning in their lives. It’s built in, a survival mechanism. 

Listen to the words of the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 

For those who did not enjoy what 2022 offered you, remember that when one door closes another has a way of opening. Sometimes you just have to look for it. 

More often, you may have to take those first steps alone. 

Reach out, trust yourself, take a risk.

More than a resolution, a revolution. 

We cannot return to when America really was great for the majority of its people in the 1950s and 1960s when there was rising prosperity and hope, unions were strong, one minimum wage job was enough to support a family. 

But even then there were broad barriers although the fissures of race, gender equality and immigration had yet to split open our society. 

We cannot go back, but perhaps we can push forward, learning from our past. 

It will not be easy. It will take courage. 

We need to practice tolerance and grace; we need to move beyond blame of ourselves and others. Self-blame demeans our own value and importance; blaming others is a put down that reflects poorly on us and encourages others to attack, escalating division instead of healing wounds. 

How we experience people responding to us defines how safe we feel. And they feel the same way. 

If you attack their beliefs, of course they’ll take it personally. If you express genuine interest in trying to understand them, you may be able to start a meaningful conversion. 

People need to feel good about themselves, that they have intrinsic value. That value is also tied into their families and communities at work, at school, in their churches and political affiliations. 

To make significant changes and start discussion on constructive action, we will need to embrace all these groups and understand the fragility, in most cases the futility, of turning one person against all those who have defined who they are in this life. 

We need to learn what their concerns are and address them in language that they can adopt. We need to avoid offering false choices where none of the choices is acceptable. 

On both, on all, sides we need to develop respect for others, that it’s ok to be different. As long as we can integrate shared values, people can live in harmony. 

Antagonism and violence develop when people feel the need of protection against enforced change, change on which they have not been consulted or their needs understood. 

We need to accept that like us, others may be scared and lash out against any change that threatens the definition of how they have been taught to understand the world and their place in it. 

We need to wake up ourselves and stop relying on others to be woke. 

We need to take the first steps. One could be as simple as asking an acquaintance, or even a stranger how they feel, and really listen. 

Create gatherings where everyone gets to say how what they do contributes to the well-being of society with an emphasis on their ideals and the values towards which they strive. Steer away from what people oppose to avoid falling, again, into the blame game. 

Acknowledge that while our country embraces a huge diversity of backgrounds and values, of beliefs and faiths, what is important is our shared humanity, our universal need to care for others.

That security, whether on their street or internationally can be achieved through true generosity which will generate a feeling of safety. That caring for others can deflect aggression, that compassion can build trust. 

That the teachings of all faiths have a focus on reaching out, of altruism, as their highest aspiration. “Not my problem” is never an excuse; a problem for one is a problem for all. 

That with inclusivity we can regain a sense of peace, because we are no longer threatened, that a joining together will allow us to reclaim our awe and wonder about the world around us. 

Just for now, can we resolve to make 2023 a kinder, gentler year and refrain from blame? 

To let go, take the first step and see if we can make this a lifelong commitment.

(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)

 

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