The easy editorial to write this week would be a list of New Year’s resolutions. To be honest, I’ve never been all that excited about making New Year’s Resolutions. I could also have written up a 2021 year-in-review. But I know others could, and will, do a much better job of that than I.
Instead, I’ve decided to put into words something I first thought about last year at this time. Everyone knows 2020 was a difficult year. And as the year 2020 wound down, I saw an overwhelming number of communications, across multiple media, from people just looking forward to the calendar turning over to 2021. Turn the page, put that year behind us, let’s move on.
Now, I understand that sentiment. Symbols can wield immense power over the way we view things, so the simple symbolic act of turning from one year to the next can indeed create a productive change in our mindset. I understand.
But merely turning the page in the calendar won’t produce lasting change in our lives. Inspired feelings only last so long until our ingrained habits retain control over us. This is why most New Year’s Resolutions fail. Old habits must not only be set aside, they must be replaced with new habits, and, as the saying goes, old habits die hard.
I’m not even talking about our personal lives here; I’m talking about our society. Most of what made 2020 so difficult for so many people seemed to be items beyond their control. Lockdowns destroyed many people’s businesses and livelihoods. Restrictions to travel and to certain facilities made it impossible for families to spend time with loved ones, even those on their death beds.
During 2021 we have now seen, not only worldwide but in this at least nominally free country, governmental vaccine mandates. Legitimate concerns over what medical treatments an individual can be forced to put in their own bodies have led to even more people losing their livelihood, simply because they didn’t want to be forced into undergoing experimental medical procedures.
Again, we might ask, Will 2022 see our society regain its collective sanity? To that I respond, Only if we choose to do so. Only if enough people decide that’s what they want for our society and commit to bringing about that change.
At this point, many people may already be throwing up their hands. How can I change the CDC guidelines? How can I change federal mandates?
Instead, I suggest viewing the situation through a different lens.
If you don’t like your employer demanding you participate in certain medical treatments, say no. The best way to do this is in a large, like-minded group. Certain airline pilots and other airline employees stood up as a group to this kind of overreach and forced changes. Other groups have done the same. Even here in North Dakota, I am aware of a group of college students at one of our state institutions of higher education who were facing a choice to either take the COVID vaccines, for the purposes of necessary collaboration with an outside organization, or be flunked from their program. It took half the students in the program approaching the program director and demanding another solution for them to be heard. Emails by individuals didn’t do it. Personal visits by individuals didn’t accomplish it. It took a whole group of them together. However, even if you have to stand alone, stand against the impositions you think go too far.
If you don’t like politicians who spend your money as if it belongs to them, and who see “government money” as something different from “taxpayer money,” stop voting for them. Support other candidates who won’t do that. And I don’t just mean at the national level; I mean right here in our own backyard. If you don’t like elected officials in North Dakota constantly talking about tax relief, for example, and then never providing any substantial tax relief, stop supporting them and work to get others elected. The same holds true for numerous other issues that you may not like. If our elected officials won’t stand up for the society you want, stop supporting them and stand up for other candidates.
Finally, if you don’t like media companies lying to you and only telling you a tiny percentage of the story, stop supporting them. Stop buying or consuming their content. Seek out other sources who will attempt to root out more of the truth.
Will there always be situations out of our control? Absolutely. The challenge for us is to work within the situations in which we have far more control than we usually realize or admit. And then commit to overhauling those habits.
If you really do want a better 2022.