I start thinking about New Year resolutions around mid-November. A new year offers an opportunity to re-calibrate – take stock of my current situation, reflect on how things stand at present, and think about where I’d like to head next; what it would help to drop or de-emphasise and what it would help to strengthen and focus on.
I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie (A Game of Shadows, did not enjoy) at the cinema, and was grateful for the habit recently copied from my friend Kath of taking with me at all times a small notebook in which to jot down absolutely anything – a kind of external hard-drive to augment my own memory. In the dark cinema I wrote blind in consequently strange, but legible, writing the words spoken by one of the characters:
“Tomorrow the sun will rise and set. The rest is up for grabs.”
I really liked that as an expression of the opportunity that waits for us in every new day, highlighted by standing on the threshold of a new year.
In the words of Diana Lorence (of the Innermost House): To simplify does not mean to step down or to accept less, it means to begin again.
In beginning 2012 it seems to me that the priority both most urgent and most important is the Earth agenda, what Vandana Shiva calls Earth Democracy. The Earth is our context, it is the place that allowed Jesus to make Love visible, the university of our soul development, the means by which we taste and hear and touch and see something of the greater glory of God. No matter how religious we are, how focussed on heaven or how eagerly straining for the coming of Jesus in glory, without the Earth we lose the context in which God chose to play out the purposes of His sacred and beautiful will, His plan of salvation, the pattern of redemption, the vision of the Peaceable Kingdom. Never more desperately have our brothers and sisters in every species needed to have us stand with them, choosing God over Mammon, justice over greed, what is natural over what is profitable, what is right over what is expedient. The slime mould of Mammon is incorporating more and more of the human race, and the indifference of the religious right to the wellbeing of creation is advancing not hindering the spread of the Mammon-sprawl.
So in 2012, my first priority is to hold Earth Democracy at the forefront of my decision-making, and that my Resolution#1
Resolution#2 is to look for the Human. I find it disturbing to reflect upon the disenfranchisement of increasing numbers of members of the human community by the increase of automation made possible by technological advance. Driven by the unquestioned imperative of profit, people are made redundant by adoption of mechanisation – even forced to work towards their own redundancy by training the punters to use self-service machines. In 2012 I resolve to actively seek - even where it is to my financial disadvantage and personal inconvenience - shops, restaurants and public services where human beings rather than machines still determine what is done and provide the interface with the business and the customer – small family businesses, local enterprises, and firms whose practice, as well as their product and publicity, celebrates community.
Resolution#3 is to give myself permission to be me. This year I will take with both hands the opportunity life has offered me to live a simple life, what William Penn called a ‘retired’ life – quiet and reclusive; because I want to. This year I will refuse the guilt I feel at not joining in, and the compulsion I feel to attend events where I sense an expectation of my supporting presence. I will go if it feels right and comfortable. I might go if it just feels right. If it doesn’t feel either right or comfortable they can do it without me.
Resolutions#4,5 & 6 are inter-connected, and should be made more possible by #3:
#4 To stop arguing
#5 To stop criticising
#6 To stop complaining
because arguing, criticising and complaining achieve nothing, leave a bitter taste behind, erode friendship and goodwill, and are destructive and depressing.
As I am considerably addicted to arguing, criticising and complaining, part of my plan in implementing this resolution is to have a nice time: to do lots of things that I like, spend more time by myself, and not to ask too much of myself, so that I have enough reserves to conduct myself positively and cheerfully. I will be limiting my commitments wherever reasonably possible to one event per day, the rest of the time being given to housework, writing, thinking, reading, learning, cooking, gardening, walking etc. By ‘event’ I mean mainly things with people in – visiting individuals, fulfilling family duties, attending church worship and business meetings, etc.
I shall take the advice of William Penn: Have but little to do, and do it thy self: and do to others as thou wouldst have them do to thee; so thou cast not fail of temporal felicity: and, Avoid company where it is not profitable or necessary; and in those occasions speak little and last. Ha! If I manage to stick to this, my family will not recognise me!!
Finally, Resolution #7 is to sow the seeds of kindness and understanding.
I’ll let you know how I get on.