I am not a big fan of the New Year’s holiday. Nor am I one to fall into the “resolution” trap. But I have been thinking about ways in which we all might make the coming year and whatever years we may be on this earth better for ourselves and for everyone else. So, here are some completely gratuitous thoughts in the issue.
- I plan to stop watching people like Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews. They cleave. We should find ways to put together not to tear apart.
- For that matter, the less TV we watch the better. Even situation comedies have an agenda any more, so there is nothing to laugh at just for the sake of laughing. Everything else makes me want to cry. We are subtly influenced by television in ways we don’t even realize.
- Take crime, for instance. Remember that television news channels live on ratings. Because of our peculiar nature, we tune in when crimes are talked about. So, we have come to think that the world is a much more dangerous place than it is. We are scaring the joy out of our lives. Oh, yes, we must take care because humans are capable of anything. But when we avoid the sunshine for fear of the shadows, we may as well just die.
- I hope that we can find the means to understand that school budgets and learning aren’t necessarily connected. When our kids don’t learn, we immediately start throwing money at the problem. How about throwing parental responsibility into the mix? Parents are as integral to the learning process as the teachers. Abraham Lincoln learned on a slate with the help of a mother (a step-mother, at that) who loved him and encouraged him. And good teachers can inspire just as effectively with a whiteboard as with PowerPoint (probably more so, because they rely more on their knowledge than on technology). Our children aren’t hampered because they don’t all have iPads. But without parents to encourage them, no degree of technology would matter.
- I am sick of the argument about how God has been taken out of the schools. In public schools, this is appropriate. The real problem is that God has been removed from several generations of families. Whatever else you can say about religion, when kids went to church regularly they at least were exposed to the idea that the world is better when we respect one another. “Society” is a fiction. A society is a collection of individuals. And individuals are made–or broken–by the family into which they are born.
- Although I am not one to become mired in politics I am horrified that many of our elected representatives seem to have forgotten that they were “hired” to act in our best interests–not in the interests of their party, of their lobbyists, or of their perpetuation in office. Entrenchment, not compromise, is the rule of the day; and the arrogance of many of these people–whom WE chose to serve US–is disgusting. The attitude seems to run through the halls of congress that these people know what’s best for us, and we should just accept that they are smarter than we are and let it go. If I were going to make a resolution, it might be to work hard to remove any elected official–regardless of his or her party–who is more concerned with anything besides working for the best result for the people who elected them.
- I am sick of the focus on guns in society–on both sides of the divide. I don’t for one minute think that doing everything we can to take military style rifles weapons out of the equation is going to lead to the disarmament of the entire society. If history has taught us anything, it is that you can’t violate the American character–at least for very long–without suffering serious pushback, politically or otherwise. But who, in God’s name, needs an AR-15? I have yet to hear of a herd of deer counter-attacking. Let’s bring some common sense to this discussion–and not forget that it may have been the closing of the mental health facilities thirty years ago that–combined with improved weapons technology–has precipitated the recent horrors. Even if we ban the worst guns, people will get them. Doing nothing about mental illness is far more dangerous. Of course, this will all revert to the discussion in my previous bullet point about representatives looking out for our best interests as opposed to, say, their prospects for reelection.
- Oh…and if you really want to make your life better, read, read, read. Encourage your children to read. Read to your chlldren. Have your children read to you.
- And hug each other a lot.
So there. Happy New Year!