I don’t make New Years’ resolutions for the same reason I don’t buy Self-Help books; if I want to change something I’ll change it.
Likewise, I hate inspirational quotes. The internet is infested with the damn things, usually with a picturesque backdrop of natural beauty, hovering over which are one or two sentences that will make us better, braver, stronger souls, if we just read them. There’s even a word for them – memes, and I confess that my only interest in memes is when someone inverts the norm and puts something crude or funny on top of the scenic beauty. And yet…
There is one meme that I saw on a friend’s Facebook page that I have returned to in my mind, over and over. And it seems appropriate to share it now, as what I am about to write is really just a very protracted meme. It is, I suppose, a statement of intent for 2017.
The quote I love is “Nothing for myself that is not also for others.”
As we begin this New Year, the temptation is to reflect upon our own lives and the state of the world. We usually find something lacking in both. But we should ask “was there ever a time when everything, everywhere was perfect?” and if there was, where was I that week? The world is always in chaos with doom-mongers telling us that we face a threat from some terrorist group or other, some environmental catastrophe, some rogue government and some of the time they’re right. But should we live our lives in a permanent state of fear and panic? And if we do, is that any kind of life at all? Resolutions are often about giving things up, just like the demands religions often make, and self-denial and the many hair shirts they want us to dress ourselves in, with the vague promise of a better future (when you’re dead in the case of the religions) aren’t for me. Instead I resolve to live by a lifelong code and follow my own path.
In 2017 I will remain optimistic no matter what. I will live without fear. Always.
I shall live without envy and celebrate the success of others.
I will take sides. Impartiality in the face of wrongdoing makes me livid. I will side with those who hunger for justice, who thirst for equality, who suffer because their weakness means that the powerful won’t listen to them.
I will continue to believe in everyone’s right to live how they want to, so long as in doing so they harm no one else. Everyone on the planet should live free from rules imposed by tradition, religion, power, patriarchy and private scorn. Let each person answer to their own conscience alone.
I will make time for everyone who needs an ear to listen and I will try to be the best friend to those who find themselves in need of one. Selfishly, if I can help someone then I am also enriched.
I will continue to believe that the freedom of all men and women and the equality of every living soul are the most important battles to be fought today and that those who soldier in these wars are our greatest warriors.
I will never let my beliefs be swayed by current fashions in thought or by ridiculous cultural relativism. If freedom and equality are important in this country then they are just as important in every other country. If local traditions dispute this then I will speak out to say that those traditions are wrong.
The weighing of ideas will be my greatest pastime.
I will never confuse respecting a person’s right to believe whatever they want with the notion that I should respect that belief. No beliefs are sacred, or above mockery, satire or ridicule. If I am willing to defend my position, I expect you to be able to do the same without resorting to anything other than the use of words.
I will never lose faith in mankind. Throughout history humanity has overcome every trial it faced and used its ingenuity and imagination to continue improving each other’s lot in life. I will always celebrate humans and ignore those who say that people are the greatest threat to the planet. A world without people is a pointless, unworthy place and we have it within us to make the world over again and again, each time greater than before. I will continue to see that the greatest value lies in people and not in property or other artefacts.
I will believe, like Arturo Giovanitti did, that working people are the power of the earth, the foundations of society, the thinkers and the doers of all things good and all things fair and useful. I know, like he knew, that ages, powers, dynasties and gods have come and gone but we “plebs, populace, people, rabble, mob, proletariat – live and abide forever”.
I will look for the best in everyone and always try to see the things that unite us rather than seek to make our differences the key to how I interact with them. I will respect others who do the same.
I believe that we have it within us all to save each other and there is never a moment to be lost in doing so.
I will love and hope to be loved in return.
And above all else, I will ask for nothing for myself that is not also for others.
Have a wonderful New Year.
One Reply to “On The Buses: New Year’s meme”
It’s always good to read a piece that affirms the writer’s faith in ordinary human beings, in love, generosity and solidarity with one another. The dominant narrative in the media – TV, radio, papers & internet is of persistent back-biting, selfishness, greed, lack of trust & lack of trustworthiness, coupled with patronising incredulity that anyone could think or act otherwise. Not wanting to be too crude about it, it’s a con, played by the selfish rich who try to convince us that everyone’s as bad as them.
But we’re not. Every day millions of us do small and larger acts of kindness, not for reward or personal gain but just because…well, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you help out a fellow human being, treat someone with respect , do unto others as you would be done by, knowing that “There but for good fortune go I”? All the evidence shows that the less well off you are, the more generous you are likely to be with your time and money.
In short, it’s great to read a celebration of being ordinary.
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