Repeat after me:
“In 2013, I resolve to love all the children of the world as if they are my own children.”
There you go. You now have the only New Year’s Resolution you need. You’re welcome.
When you look at a list of popular American New Year’s resolutions, I am sure you can relate to them. Most of them have been on my list at least once. And, the resolution I am offering you is not meant to replace any of these. It’s meant to re-frame them. Let me ask you: Why do we want to get fit and drink less and finally get our messy finances in order? Too often, we make these resolutions for the reason – I am not a good enough person and this is the year when I will finally be a good person. This is a sucky reason. Plus, it’s not true. You are already good enough. I am already good enough. And, as individuals, we are all doing the best we can.
What we are lacking is a connection to each other. A collective sense of responsibility to each other. And I argue that this lacking is making us feel much worse than the fact that we could recycle more than we do or that we haven’t yet quit smoking. In fact, I argue that it is BECAUSE of this lacking that we are doing much of these “bad behaviors” in the first place. We eat and drink and smoke and sit around in front of the TV for too many hours in the first place because we are sad and scared and having a hard time navigating this world that tells us we are not good enough. We do these things because it is so difficult to find ways to come and be and work and play together. Although personal resolve and self control are important, I argue that it is in our coming together that we will find our true strength.
So, here is the re-framing. Whether you are actually a parent or not, when you resolve to love all the children of the world as if they are your own children, you create and renovate connections to others in real, deep, and meaningful ways. Your resolutions start to develop a greater purpose because they are aligned with this greater mission – this mission to make choices based on the love and collective responsibility we all have to care for the most precious and vulnerable among us. Suddenly, “Get a better job” becomes “Use my talents to make a positive contribution to this society.” “Manage Stress” becomes “Practice mindfulness to be conscious of the quality of energy I bring into any situation.” And “Lose Weight” becomes “Be the model of healthy eating and physical activity that I wish for the children I love.”
The one thing we all have in common is that we have all been children. We all understand what children need to be happy and to be cared for. Unfortunately, many of us did not receive what we needed as children. And I am so sorry about that. But, as adults, no matter what happened to us as children, we can make the choice to take responsibility for the children who are coming up after us. Let’s face it. We have survived the end of the world. Now, it’s time to re-build it. You are already a good enough person. You just need the rest of us to have your back. You can do it. I can do it. Let’s do it for our children.