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Resolved! Do Something Better For Others!
David 'Kip' Koontz

January 9, 2002

Happy New Year! As we kick off 2002 many, if not all of us, announce, if only to ourselves, some sort of New Year's resolutions. Traditionally, these resolutions are fairly ordinary in nature. "I will lose weight." "I will get in shape." "I will stop smoking." And so on.

While heaven knows we can all stand some sort of self-improvement, I question why, when we are making resolutions for a New Year we can't resolve to do something to better the world as well? I know we are all busy, busy people. I know we all have jobs that require too much of our time. I know we have children who have a school and extra-curricular activity schedule that keeps them as busy as we are-thus making us even busier getting to and fro. I know many of us have other commitments to clubs, associations, etc. that keep us hopping as well. Yet, for all this commitment we have, what are we really doing as individuals to make Frederick, the U.S., our world a better place? How many of us are willing to resolve to better ourselves in order to better the world?

How many of us resolve to be nicer to people? That would go a great distance to improving our quality of life. For example, wouldn't it be nice if people resolved to be nicer to their fellow Fredericktonian and thus, actually yielded to drivers as they attempted to enter Rt. 15? In turn, wouldn't be nice if those on Rt. 15 moved over to the left lane to let cars onto the roadway?

Wouldn't it be nice if we resolved to say "hello" to people we don't know, just for the sake of being nice? Wouldn't it be nicer if we didn't think of ourselves as being numero uno and consider that we are all bound together on this great big orb of Earth? Why, when some encounter people in a wheelchair, for instance, do they treat the wheelchair-bound person as an impediment to their forward progress in the mall instead of a person? Where the heck do any of us really need to be in such a hurry that we only see our getting there as the most important thing in life? And, wouldn't it be nice if our elected officials were in it not to improve and protect their political standing, but to protect and improve our quality of life?

How many of us resolve to do something to improve the life of someone less fortunate? Okay. We can donate money through our charities and our churches-which is all well and good. But, don't you think it may be a wonderfully humbling experience to volunteer at the soup kitchen? Are we willing to donate our time at a food bank? How many of us would volunteer to help "Habitat for Humanity" build someone a home? Why don't we volunteer to visit folks at nursing homes? How many of us are willing to get ourselves dirty by learning about the misfortunes of others from those who experienced them, in order to help prevent them from happening to someone else?

I know, it is easier to give of our money then of ourselves, but, in the long run, think of Mister Scrooge. Why can't we keep in mind the adage, "there but for the grace of God go I?"

How many of us resolve to "judge not lest we be judged?" We are a nation at war. For a while after the dastardly attacks on America, it seemed as if we were willing to look beyond our differences and focus on our commonality as Americans. Yet, I guess that unfortunately it is easier to define ourselves as to what makes us different than as to what makes us alike. It seems the original sins of distrust and hate can so easily overwhelm our ability to trust and to love.

Anyone who watches the news sees that war coverage is giving way to the upcoming budget battles and divisive rhetoric is heating up. The framework of this debate will be, not what can we do to help others, but to condemn many who have had economic misfortune. Then, we must decide whose "welfare" gets cut in the budget process, people's or industry's? During the holiday season its sad that we were back to cocktail party discussions that were loaded with "us" versus "them" as we talked about the direction the country is headed. Does anyone really know what side of "us" versus "them" they are on?

As we move into an election year where Alex Mooney is running for re-election, primarily on the backs of those who are different from him-we have to expect that his type of mean-spirited "judgment-based" rhetoric will cloud the political landscape instead of a true focus on what can be done to help solve problems. Why is it some can't look at our commonality to promote ideas and policies that will help and do good, instead of focusing on our differences in order to promote ideas and policies that are mean, judgmental and bad?

The following is a quote used in an advertising campaign for national volunteerism that is poignant:

"In America you are not required to offer food to the hungry or shelter to the homeless. There is no ordinance forcing you to visit the lonely or comfort the infirm. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you have to provide clothing for the poor. In fact, one of the nicest things about living here in America is that you really don't have to do anything for anybody."


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