A New Year’s message–tardy at best

Happy New Year to all my loyal readers . . .paired with a heartfelt apology about letting this blog drift so far down my ‘To Do’ list. I resolve to write weekly in 2011, as writing this blog is dear to my heart and adds vitality to my life. Back in November, when I was on my writer’s retreat, we did an exercise about archetypes that guide us. One of the cards which I drew reminded me that challenging the status quo, and deeply-ingrained beliefs about same, is an inherent value I hold. Which is, of course, why I launched this blog.

But how to inspire with new thoughts for the new year? I recently stumbled upon a set of silver charms that list five simple rules for happiness. I attached them to my keys, as a daily reminder to incorporate the steps:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Just feeling their weight in my hand reminds me to take a breath and embrace these principles. They’re a lovely example of what I’ve long preached, getting the concepts we want to ingrain in our brains to actually register permanently in our thoughts. Much less messy than Post-it notes.*

Listening to NPR’s Tell Me More this morning on my drive to work, rule #1 jumped out. The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in the Arizona crowd is a tragic example of the need for us all, as #1 says, to ‘free our hearts from hatred.’ The show host,  Michel Martin, and her guest, Representative Paul Grijalva (Democrat, Arizona), addressed the rampant toxic rhetoric in our nation. They called for personal responsibility in returning to true debate about issues, rather than ‘demonizing the other side.’ Rep. Grijalva quoted Rep. Gifford’s, the target victim, i.e. that “words have consequences . . . they have meaning.” You can listen or read the transcript here.

Rhetoric like this is fueled by hatred. Too often, as individuals, we doubt our ability to affect our society or our lawmakers on a wide scale. As I’ve written elsewhere, we suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations. But I believe, as Michel Martin and Rep. Grijalva point out, that we all can affect issues like this by calling on lawmakers to have a sense of ethics and personal responsibility. We can also affect this, on a daily basis, beginning with our own hearts. Continuing with the hearts of our children. We can take a deep breath and free our own hearts from hatred. Don’t engage in or tolerate the spread of toxic talk in society. Speak up against it. Teach your children to do the same. Step away from our growing immunity to violence, fueled by video games, movies, and TV. Crosshair symbols on a political website may seem like humor, while feeding the toxicity in our culture.

As human beings, we are all connected. Change begins with a single word, a single choice, to step away from hatred and violence. If we each clear hate from our hearts, and speak up about this issue, even in individual conversations, perhaps our loving hearts can spark a healthier trend.

*If you want to get your own set of pocket charms, and live in Dallas, you can get your own set for only $10 at the Dallas Museum of Art gift shop. Or astute reader Karen of Grace in the Gray Areas (check it out) found them on Amazon.

10 thoughts on “A New Year’s message–tardy at best

  1. pinball says:

    You have a really valuable blog, I have been here reading for about an hour or so. I am a newbie and your success is extremely inspiring for me.

  2. Sara says:

    Thank you, Ann! I love the steps and the idea to carry the charms. I just finished watching Pres. Obama’s DADT repeal signing speech as well as a gay UU former military officer’s speech (regarding same, and, yes, I am very behind in catching up on these things!) so I was already in a very warm, happy, non-hating place. Your words just boosted that even more, so I feel very good going into MLK weekend! Now to just keep it up all year ’round.
    The most valuable resolution of them all!

  3. Vivienne McNeny says:

    So… there are new posts on this blog!
    I have prepared a piece on this topic for my radio programme this Friday because I was listening to a show about civility this week. I remembered when my children were young how their voices would rise and fall with mine, if I grew agitated so did they, as I calmed down so did they.
    As individuals we make up society. This is a powerful reminder and a responsibility all of us should embrace. Freeing our hearts from hatred would make a wonderful society in which to live.
    Dream on, all those positive thoughts will become reality.

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