New Slant on New Year: Reflecting on past, embracing future

Over 60

Every New Year brings a chance to reflect on the past and embrace the future. We all made resolutions, but as wise people commented:

“The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” – G.K.Chesterton

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” – Ben Franklin

•”Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-day book. Write a good one.’ – Brad Paisley

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey

Many people with a sense of humor looked at the turn of a year with tongue in cheek:

Mark Twain: “New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week as usual you can begin paving hell with them.”

Bill Vaughn: “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to. Old age is when you sleep through it.”

P.J. O’Rourke: “The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be so drunk on New Year’s Eve that you kiss the person you’re married to.”

Oscar Wilde: “May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!”

OK, let’s get philosophical. Why in 2019, looking back at a year flushed with bitter disappointments, divisions and hate, are we reminded daily of catastrophic stupidity, violence, ignorance, and me-first scrambling?

While life has its ups and downs, it’s not all bad; while the rest of us still go with the flow, singular people still do remarkable things.

And so we turn the page on 2018 to make optimistic resolutions. Not for ourselves, but others who have more control over the rest of us:

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could return to an age of reason and make up for decades of being “dumbed down”? We’ve become sloppy over the years – in habits in dress, looks, talk, and – ultimately – in thinking. Easier has become better. We confuse love with lust, overlook true companionship. We allow our children, whose precious minds and souls are given to us to raise, to raise themselves. And look at the results.

So, for example how about these resolutions for a start:

– For politicians: resolve not to sink into tricky populism, but become once again what Plato felt was the perfect motivation: to serve the public and global interests, and not to profit the self.

– For manufacturers and sellers of mass produced goods: set sights high, give the best for the least cost, with integrity and honesty – and with food, with good health in mind.

For those who feel like second class citizens: even in a democracy some sacrifices must be made for the better good of the greatest number. Give as well as take.

For all of us: The age of innocence has been replaced by an age of ignorance; don’t settle for OK, strive for excellence with basics – build a stronger vocabulary beyond “cool” and “awesome,” return to the rigors of a precise use of language, refrain from useless “buzz” words (“y’know?” “Um” & “Uh,” starting statements with an unnecessary “So” ). Read the classics to rediscover how beautiful language used to be.

And most vital of all: don’t assume that what’s new is always better than what’s old. It’s the things that last that are the best.

For a level of excellence –look, listen, and learn — and know when to keep your mouth shut.