New Year, fresh start - Resolved to build a better 2014

  • Written by Joan Hadac


 Editor’s note: the opinion piece below was written by correspondent Joan Hadac and is adapted from something she published online a year ago. It serves as a timeless reminder that New Year’s resolutions can and should be about more than losing weight or quitting smoking.

  Well, now that most of us have broken our New Year’s resolutions…

  OK, kidding. Sort of.
  It seems to me that most New Year’s resolutions involve personal behavior: lose weight, stop smoking, exercise regularly, etc.
  But fewer resolutions involve social behavior — that is, changing the way we act in our neighborhoods, city, state, nation and world. With that in mind, here are 10 social resolutions I suggest all of us think about.
  In 2014, resolve to:
  • Introduce yourself to six neighbors you currently do not know. By “six” I mean six households — not the mom, dad, two kids, dog and cat living next door. By “introduce” I mean face to face — not Facebook friending or anything similarly lacking in the human touch. And by “face to face” I mean something more than a smile, wave or head nod. Invite them over to dinner — or meet them at one of your local restaurants, who could certainly use the business.
  • Support your local newspaper. Buy a gift subscription for your neighbors. Patronize the paper’s advertisers and let them know you saw their ad. Community newspapers are an important part of the local social fabric, and they offer something important that the downtown papers can’t possibly give. A community that loses its local paper is a community in decline.
  • Live your faith. If you are a believer, support your local house of worship with more than lip service. Participate in services regularly and contribute your time, talents and treasure to give glory to God.
  • Send someone flowers or a fruit basket. Just once in 2014, send a gift to someone you have never sent a gift to before — preferably someone taken for granted by others. A crossing guard, a school or church secretary, someone like that.
  • If you are eligible to vote, register to vote and vote in every election. Ever wonder why some parts of the greater Chicago area seem to get more attention from elected officials than others? It’s because they produce votes, and in big numbers. Also, cast an informed ballot. Know the issues and the candidates.
  • Support your local police. They can’t be everywhere, and they need extra sets of eyes and ears to keep them informed. If you see something, say something. And get involved in your local neighborhood watch or whatever works best for you.
  • Consider adopting a dog or cat from a local shelter. In addition to saving the life of an animal that might otherwise be killed, a good house pet can actually improve your physical and spiritual well being.
  • Attend and support local public events. Check out your local civic association, historical society and chamber of commerce. And attend events that support our local boys and girls. Granted, it’s not always easy shoveling down Cub Scout pancakes, Boy Scout spaghetti, or potluck whatever — but these are the types of events, small as they are, that help build and strengthen the fabric of our communities.
  • Shop locally. The small businesses within a mile or two or your home pay local taxes, employ local men and women, and donate to local organizations like schools, churches, Little League, Scouting groups and more.
  • Finally, resolve to smile, laugh and spread cheer among people you meet — whether you’ve known them all your life or whether you met them five minutes ago.