This year, in our special New Year’s issue, we are focusing on resolutions. Some are whimsical. Some are serious. Some are aimed at our public people. Some are aimed at our personal conscience. They all contain within them the understanding that just three little words can secure the progress of us all. The words are, “let us resolve.” Here’s my take...and my hope.
Close your ears to all the noise and hubbub for a few moments and imagine the following…
You go to a CLSC or EI or Revenue office and the civil servant you encounter actually tries to be of service…
You turn to a police officer for help and they don’t automatically regard you with suspicion but go out of their way to help…
You go through your lists of things to do for you and find that at the top are things that you want to do for others…
This is a season where all of us — regardless of faith — give more, serve more, sacrifice more. It is a remarkable phenomenon that seems to happen year in and year out from the time when the first lights go up in mid-November until they are taken down in mid-January. Truly a festival of light in the fullness of its meaning.
Why does this happen? Because we care more!
Someone speculated recently that the reason for the caring is guilt. That we’re shamed into it by the images of this time of year. By the thought that some greater power is looking at us…and judging.
But I would suggest that though this lesser angel of our natures plays a part, there is yet a greater influence. It is not all about reward and punishment. This season gives us time for reflection and pause. A time-out from the hurly-burly nonsense of the rest of the year. And that when it is called the season of peace, that peace has an inner meaning as much as an outer one.
Peace between peoples and nations is surely important. But there is not a great deal that each of us individually can do about it. But peace between the warring factions within our souls we can conciliate. We can champion the nobler angels within us and make them triumphant.
I would suggest that at this time of year even the coarsest among us is struck by one compelling revelation. That whatever our faiths, we have time to reflect on the immeasurable possibilities that one just person can realize. That the sacrifices that person made for simple truth and decency, could truly gentle the world and tame the savageness of man.
And when we reflect on the just who have passed through this world, we also remember that many paid the ultimate price for their truth. There is our own mortality to consider. We realize it is not about the accumulation of goods, but about the accumulation of deeds. We realize that for all the lessons we try to teach our children, we will be found wanting if we do not act as well as talk.
We are, to a great degree, shamed and humbled as we reflect on the princes of peace and the warriors for justice that have walked this earth. For one part of the year we pause. We go outside of ourselves to repair that which is within.
It matters little if we are traditionally observant or not. All those we reflect upon this season were people who lived very much in this world. People who saw suffering and tried to heal it and saw injustice and tried to stop it. That is the message of this season. That is the temper we can carry through all our time.
And through all the commercialism and sham that pervades the outer limits of this season, the inner core is an entirely different message. It is one of service and sacrifice, of compassion and conscience. It is an understanding that the legacies we will leave will come from our actions. In a thousand different ways and to a thousand different people, we need only do justice, extend mercy and walk humbly.
That’s a pretty good New Year’s resolution too.