I have a love-hate relationship with the last two weeks of every year. I love the holiday spirit which seems to put the nation in vacation mode. I hate the endless year-in-review features in the media. I know it’s always “a must” and that we should always look at what we accomplished over the past 12 months as a society. Still, the “look-backs” make me feel like “we have to start all over again” in January. Plus, the year-enders make me a bit melancholy.
I suppose that through the years that it has become human nature to look to the New Year as a time to clean the slate, start anew and make promises. This unofficial contract comes in various forms from the popular weight loss promise to financial belt-tightening. My only wish is that society as a whole makes a promise to be kinder and gentler. I like that phrase as coined by President George H.W. Bush. “Kinder and gentler” was a nice sentiment, but it was always too bad that the world never completely followed through on that vision.
OK, maybe “kinder and gentler” is too much to ask of society. Maybe I should simply ask for a bit more empathy and respect? The idea of more empathy and respect came to me as I came across a few disturbing items online. A Facebook friend of mine posted that she and her family recently went to see the latest James Bond vehicle, Skyfall. A fellow theater patron brought her child into the show. The child was playing with his iPad, disrupting everyone around him. Someone asked the folks to leave, but before they left, they announced, “…thanks for being so rude. You obviously don't have children of your own!" Labeling the parents narcissistic, selfish and rude wouldn’t even scratch the surface in that situation. The iPad Parents obviously feel that the world spins on their axes and that they are the ones who deserve the empathy and respect. How warped is that view? Again, asking these folks to be kinder and gentler is asking for too much. How about a little respect for others? Don’t count on those folks changing any time soon.
I recently read a Patch post where a school board member hit a student in a Walmart parking lot with her SUV. What was the student’s offense in the SUV driver’s mind? The student was standing in an empty parking space saving it for her brother’s girlfriend who recently gave birth. Thusly the school board member was annoyed to the point of striking someone with her SUV … over a parking space. Was that lack of respect for another human’s life worth getting arrested?
My question is, will these offensive people realize their actions and make promises to behave better in the New Year? From the sounds of it, don’t hold your breath with those folks. Thus, beware of those who announce that they are sticking with a promise, commitment or resolution.
I want to hold the promise of being more optimistic. I want to think that society as a whole wishes to become committed to being “kinder and gentler.” That is my promise.