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Cicily Janus Headshot

A New New Year's Resolution: Redefining the Tradition

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Ah... It's that time of year again. By now, you're sitting among family members and friends around your fireplace, television, and/or the tree looking at the mess around you. Tomorrow we'll begin the process of traveling home or cleaning up the mess our families left behind. This is also the time of year we begin or solidify our plans for New Year's Eve.

The tradition of celebrating the new year dates back to the Babylonians more than 4000 years ago. They thought of the new year as a season of rebirth and their celebrations often lasted up to 11 days. But, their celebration also took place in the beginning of spring. The Romans even celebrated the beginning of the new year in March as well. Roman politicians, realizing that things felt "off" began to tamper with the dates in an effort to set things right. This continued on until Mr. Salad Dressing himself, Julius Caesar came up with the Julian Calendar. This was somewhat faulty because although he determined that January first was the start of the year, his "calendar year" was a lengthy 445 days. Oops.

Further down the road in history, the Catholic Church deemed all these celebrations for the new year as Paganistic but eventually got over their issues. Yadda, yadda, yadda, here we are today: College football, Dick Clark and Times Square, drunken amateur pyro-wannabes setting off bottle-rockets, Nachos, Champagne etc... Welcome to the New Year's celebratory traditions of modern man.

Somewhere, among all this festive fun we decided it would be a great idea to set up some resolutions. Mostly, at least from my personal experience, these so-called resolutions are mere distractions and disappointments for a few months and then long forgotten by the time Fat Tuesday and Easter roll around. They usually revolve around three things: diet, diet, and diet. Of course this isn't everyone. But, if you looked at my spam mail box, commercials on TV, billboards, flyers, mall rat kiosks and more, you would think differently. It seems that the New Year's resolution pastime is more an excuse for bingeing on Grandma's deviled eggs, Auntie Esther's cannelloni and a Crockpot of cocktail wieners soaked in BBQ sauce. And we're not going to even mention the tasty adult beverages we consume between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

If you look closely, you'll see that the actual definition of resolution has absolutely nothing to do with a diet or a workout program. Those words aren't even mentioned. The Webster dictionary defines resolution as:

1 : the act or process of resolving: as a : the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b : the act of answering : solving c : the act of determining.

What are we "solving" by creating impossible expectations of ourselves each year? We're creating more low self-esteem and larger numbers of dysfunctional lives. Resolutions (who are we kidding) that will be broken. This ranks, at least for me, with the insanity that revolves around Valentines Day. February 14th: One day a year set aside to "show" the person you love, that you love them. Actually it's a capitalist version of "buy greeting cards and sweets" to help the economy. Show the person you love that you actually love them every day. Take a hint from the rabbits and newlyweds of the world. Don't save it for February.

I digress.

If we, as humans, were to take the tradition of resolutions and turn them into a process of determining, answering and solving our problems, maybe each year would/could be better than the last. As far as I'm concerned the problems of our world need to be run through this process on an individual level. I know, I know... You're saying to yourself, I'm just some schmuck in (place city name here) and who am I to change the world?

Let's determine our real needs as a human race and then own up to them and then solve them. We've got 365 days to do so. Starting now. We're not stupid humans. No one, even if they're self-proclaimed as stupid, is too stupid to grasp this concept. As humans we tend to breed ignorance instead of stupidity, which is a much larger issue.

I resolve to make a list this year of things that will lessen my personal ignorance to larger issues at hand. Making myself more attractive according to the commercial ideal of a woman, isn't that big of a priority. I do need to exercise more as it's something that will ensure better health for me both mentally and physically. It boosts my mood like you wouldn't believe. I've determined this personal issue by past experience. I own up to the fact that I haven't done it as much as I should and now I'm going to answer to myself and hold myself accountable until the issue is resolved.

This is far different than the ideals of those commercial diet schemes.

Now, let's apply this to an even broader, global issue.

I think it would be a great idea if our government, our communities and our neighbors applied the same for lingering issues. Of course, this would require us to be completely honest with ourselves and ignore those folks that are lobbying for your soul with empty promises of greatness with money in their pockets.

We, as a country, have already determined our major concerns, (in no particular order):

  • Health Care
  • War
  • Economic Decline

Now, we must answer to ourselves and to others who stare at us as an ugly blip on the radar. Let's own up to the fact that these are our problems. Let's resolve the real issue at hand: Ignorance. The bulk of this is our fault. Don't blame McDonald's or Monsanto. Don't blame Bin Laden (well, okay, blame him for a lot but not all) Don't blame Bush, Obama, Clinton or anyone sitting up on Capitol Hill right now. Don't blame anyone but yourself. Who did you vote for? Did you learn about their actual views and plans for our country? Aha.

Next: turn the mirror over to that side that's magnified and often horrifying. Is ignorance on your part really at the root of all of this? Are we so obsessed with creating a commercially viable country that we've actually learned to ignore the real world outside of it? Now take a step back and think about this: Is your personal appearance really that important in the grander scheme of things? Your health most certainly is, but the unhealthy view of yourself isn't.

If we actually take responsibility upon ourselves to resolve these larger problems, then we might be able to see them disappear in our lifetime. Then and only then, will we be able to say that we achieved our common goal of making our world a better place than it was when we got here. The world truly doesn't care if your brows are at a certain height or if you're a size 6 instead of a 16. So next time you think about spending your time and money on a pill, plastic surgery or even some liquid regime of skinniness, think about this: the time you spent on that one decision to find a product, a doctor, a store or group that will help you fail at another false resolution, could have been spent on creating a better life for not only yourself but everyone around you. Educate yourself on what's really important and you'll find that resolutions can achieve real, attainable solutions.