Christmas is over, and suddenly the exercise equipment is everywhere on the showroom floor. It’s there because once again you’ve fallen somewhat short of the life you’d planned for 2017. Please don’t feel bad — you just ran out of time. Sure, you wanted to lose weight and get in shape, but the demands of work, parenthood and folding laundry have once again gobbled up your goals like a trash compactor on steroids.
And it’s not just the lose-some-weight thing. You wanted to read more and better books. You wanted to learn a new skill. Maybe you wanted to volunteer in the community. Spend more time with your hobbies. Or your kids. Redecorate. Write. Paint. Sing. Dance.
If you’re lucky, you got promoted at work this year, and have climbed another rung or two on the ladder of financial success. More likely you’re working like a dog to make it in the gig economy, while praying that you won’t get sick, and that your children’s young minds will somehow understand that when you’re gone all the time you’re doing it for them.
Every generation wants a better life for their children, but the steady erosion of America’s middle class is also eroding the optimism that was once a part of the American dream. And despite all the buzzword hoopla, we’re nowhere near to knowing whether the next few years will actually reverse the falling standard of living for the “average American.” As the proud grandfather of 21, no one has deeper hopes for a truly revitalized American economy — and not just more fast food restaurants — than I do.
But there’s more to life than money, even though most of us have to work harder than five years ago to earn it. So please indulge me in offering my own admittedly modest New Year’s resolutions, both for myself and for the country I call home, the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America.
Now that I’m retired, I want to volunteer my time in a way that will benefit people around me. This will allow me to assuage some of the guilt I feel for not having done much of it before.
I want to make friends (actual invite ‘em over to dinner friends) with people who don’t go to the same church as me and might even vote for different political candidates than I do.
I want to stop being OK with letting my wife be the de facto first point of contact with my children and grandchildren.
I want to take a class in Photoshop and car repairs.
And, yeah, I’d like to drop another 15 or so.
For my country:
I’d like to see us quit demanding personal and governmental moral leadership by politicians except for when they belong to the party we prefer, at which point we suddenly become a lot squishier about what we expect from them.
I’d like to see Washington tell us once and for all whether Americans have a right to receive basic health care (or not) and then design a program to fit that goal. Trying to have it both ways doesn’t work. Never has. Neither does changing everything every eight years.
And finally, for all of us down here in the trenches:
I hope that in 2018 we can get it into our collectively thick skulls that all this anger and over-simplified vilification of those who support the other party is destroying America. Since the ones with the microphones are all acting like children it appears we’re going to have to be bigger than the parties we vote for, bigger than the websites we visit, and bigger than the networks we watch. The politicians just want to stay in power, the websites just want clicks, and the networks just want to keep the ad revenue flowing. They’re all just serving up the Kool-Aid, and we’re all just standing in line at the punch bowl.
So here’s to 2018 — a great year to re-read 1 Corinthians 13, and realize that it’s not just for weddings and marriages anymore.