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Resolution solution (12/30/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns
"Most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally evil, but by people being fundamentally people."

-Terry Pratchett

A foolproof New Year's resolution would be to make no resolution at all. That, of course, is a cop- out! We all have flaws and foibles, weaknesses and bad habits. We probably even have quirks and mannerisms that, unbeknown to us, drive someone else up a tree.

So maybe it would be beneficial to have an air-clearing rap session with family and friends. Instead of making our own resolutions, we'll allow others, in-laws included, to suggest things we can improve on.

How well do we independent Midwestern, German, Irish, Polish, and Norwegian folks take personal criticism, from a mother- in- law at that? Tact may not be a common trait we possess either. I guess this bright idea requires more thought.

I recall, back in snowsuit and red rubber boots days, how much we kids looked forward to that time off school over Christmas and New Year's. Our parents didn't have to resolve to cut down on frivolous credit card purchases. They gave us kids warm hats and mittens and a couple banged-up snow shovels and sent us out the door. We were off with the neighborhood kids, burrowing tunnels in mammoth forts of snow that would heap up against snow fences between Hvorka's house and ours.

I can't recall any specific New Years resolutions I made as an adolescent, but one bad habit I had was biting my fingernails. Since funds were tight, Dad was always getting after me for using too much water for my bath and not turning off the lights when leaving a room. Oh, life was so much more simplistic back then!

All these New Year's resolutions to give up our bad habits, to eat less, exercise more, to quit smoking, and to try to get along better with the office know-it-all, are all well and good. But in this more intense, dog-eat-dog, tension-riddled, and unjust global society, by taking a broader view of things, one might aim for all-encompassing principals and actions to make the world a more peaceful and charitable world to live in.

I suppose that eliminating bad habits and rude behavior should be ongoing efforts anyway, not merely whims that come and go. Though it seems like an overwhelming endeavor, developing intentions to be well-informed, about current events both locally and globally, can lead to understanding, and may entice a person to actively support noble causes and to become a more conscientious voter and a charitable neighbor.

Prayer has great power. If you believe this, use your faith to pray for the oppressed, to petition God for mercy on the war-ravaged, and victims of Aids and other deadly diseases. Individuals willing to demonstrate constructive involvement can make positive differences. Though one may not be physically able to serve his fellowman, caring in itself is "prayer action".

I recall a workshop I once attended for religious education. The speaker made this point: "Tell me and I might remember. Show me and I won't forget. Get me involved and I'll understand." To reach beyond yourself and your own little space, to make the world a more harmonious place to be, sometimes takes courage.

Courage doesn't always blast like a foghorn. Sometimes courage is that faint voice deep within you that incites, "Here I am, Lord, send me. Send me."

Janet Burns has lived in Lewiston all her life. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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