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Solutions, Not Resolutions!

Did you forget to make a New Year’s resolution?  Now, it’s too late, right?  You’ll just have to wait until next year, since obviously we can only make them at the beginning of the year.  Have you broken this year’s resolution, already?  Too bad, but you do have lots of company.  Well, there’s always next year, right?

Some traditions are just silly.  For example, how did it ever become a custom to make New Year’s resolutions?  I understand the idea of making a fresh start for a fresh year.  I also see the value of getting back into some good behaviors after the extravagance of holidays filled with over-eating and over-spending.  I just don’t get why anyone bothers with deciding what needs to be done, then choosing a method that rarely, if ever, succeeds.

The failure is all in the manner of stating resolutions:  “I will stop smoking.”  I’m going on a diet.”  “I will stop spending so much money.”  Typically, resolutions are made and regarded as all-or-nothing propositions, so that one failure “breaks” the resolution and terminates the effort for another year.  The custom seems to have become a formula for doing nothing about matters of some importance.  Have you ever kept a New Year’s resolution?  Do you know anyone who has? I know a few.

Let’s face it—the world needs some changes, changes that individuals can initiate and complete.  We have problems that need solutions; we just need a better method for making changes.  We need to set goals instead of making resolutions.  Goals can survive the occasional failure, even the intermittent “one step forward, two steps back.”  If a person decides to lose 10 pounds during the year, then a rich desert alone won’t upset the whole campaign.  One cigarette might set off a new round of smoking, but my Dad finally quit on the third attempt.  It’s the overall determination that matters, not the momentary slip.  Furthermore, things like eating and spending require management and self-control since they can’t be stopped altogether.  One might stop certain contributing activities, like using a credit card or stopping at the doughnut shop, although a lapse need not keep us from achieving our ultimate aims.  I even have a few suggestions.

To each of you who read this, be a loving encourager; be a compassionate neighbor. I just learned about this book (http://www.christianbook.com/chain-reaction-call-to-compassionate-revolution/darrell-scott/9780785266808/pd/66801), and I am impressed with the thoughts. I have little doubt that we can influence others for ill, but I agree with Sarah that we have the potential to set off positive reactions for good. One smile may lead to many others smiling, but it’s enough if it only makes one person feel a bit better. Look around. People have needs, and God calls us to meet them, not to make excuses, and certainly not to judge those in need. Consider the parable of the sheep and the goats (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25:31-46), and remember that Jesus is there.

To you our elected officials, please, take less and spend less of our money.  If I had my way, I’d demand an amendment to the constitution to cancel all laws and taxes, every fifty years, and make our representatives start over from scratch.  They need something to do besides make more laws, spend more money, and generally intrude more into our lives.  Second, give more of what the government does to private businesses and organizations.  Big government and huge bureaucracies are the least efficient, least effective, and most expensive way to get things done.  Too often, activist minorities use government to impose their views on the majority.  So for a third, put parents back in charge of education; let educators, associations, and bureaucrats try to convince parents that their experiments and novel ideas will really benefit their kids.  Fourth, make English the official language of the United States, once and for all, and stop the bilingual, multicultural foolishness that is good for no one.  English has become so much an international language that students from other countries know English better than our own American kids.  Refugees and immigrants come here for a chance at the American dream, and learning English is the key to their success.  Finally, win the war on terror, and stop the political infighting that has no place during wartime.

Of course, the government will listen only when enough of us insist.  So our goals as citizens must agree.  First, depend less on the government to pay for things.  As much as possible, given the government’s intrusions, take responsibility for your own health, savings, retirement, and housing—anything that the individual can realistically do for him or herself.  Second, look for opportunities to do or organize to do something that we can do better than the government, such has help the needy or reduce medical costs.  American liberty has always fostered creativity and innovation while government bureaucracy and control stifles them…and increases the costs enormously.  Third, control the education of your children whatever it takes!  If you have no children or yours are grown, then work to restore the quality of American education, wherever and however you can—home schooling, private schools, charter schools, vouchers, and campaigns to get the federal government and the teachers unions out of local school control.  Demand the return of the 3 R’s to the curriculum.  Fourth, demand the teaching of English and proficiency requirements for graduation for all students.  That means give the students what they need to learn, which probably means making “main-streaming” and socialization secondary goals, at best.  Finally, support our President, our troops, and those of any party or position who seek to win the war on terror.  Likely, this will require engaging many, here at home, in another war, a war for the heart and soul of America, a war to defeat political correctness, multiculturalism, and extremist activist groups who seek to create a vastly different America.  We need to restore an America that is a melting pot or, at the least, a stew pot where everyone is an American.  The America of multiculturalism is a buffet, where our country and communities are divided into alienated groups of hyphenated Americans.

My own personal goals for 2014 are still in development.  I have lived through a number of lean years and have sought little help from the government.  That is a matter of some pride, in my mind.  I have received help from friends and church; I think that is the way it should be.  I try to help when I can, and maybe I can do more as my circumstances improve. Now I’m nearly of Social Security and Medicaid age, although I wish it were otherwise. I still work as a refugee and international student tutor and at other things to support my work with those who have little. Social Security provides a modest base income, and even though I’d have preferred a private system, this is what I must deal with.

I have worked with refugees for over 12 ½ years, and I am eager to work for changes in how our schools teach them.  I don’t know how any “educator” could be content to put students with little English into classes taught in English, based only on their age.  Adding an ESL (English as a Second Language) class, simultaneously, is nowhere close to being adequate.  Most “graduate” without even minimal proficiency in English or much of anything else.  Many spend years at community college catching up on what should have been provided in public school.  Others find themselves stuck in minimum wage jobs with little chance for improvement.  We can do better, and I hope to help bring that about. My preferred choice would be to start a school for refugees and immigrants focused on English, but that is in God’s hands.

I had the greatest respect for our previous President and his leadership as Commander-in-Chief.  I am grateful that we have not had another terrorist attack, here at home, and I am grateful to the soldiers who have taken the war to the terrorists’ homelands.  War is an ugly but sometimes necessary business.  Religious wars are the worst; and, make no mistake, this is a religious war.  I intend to do my part to fight this war in the realm of ideas, along with the parallel war, here at home, with those who oppose all religion.

I have little confidence in the current President and despise his efforts to run everything from Washington, especially when sometimes he appears to want to run the country into the ground! I will support the opposition as much as I can, and I will encourage people to look after themselves as mentioned above.

The year previous was a challenging one in many ways, and so it ended. The sweet little green 1999 Toyota Corolla I’d enjoyed for a couple of months threw a rod, and I had to borrow from my Mom to buy the red 2000 Mercury Traveler, a van that I plan to use as I drive taxi, so I can pick up enough to make 2 car payments! On the other side, I enjoyed hosting 3 exchange students—Korean, Brazilian, and Chinese—3 very nice young men, in addition to tutoring 7 ESL students, all in college. I love these young people, and none of the challenges dampen my enthusiasm for helping these and others. The year 2014 will be an exciting year for me because these objectives are the basis for a new venture.  I have already begun with this blog, and there will be more as I learn the necessary skills.  I’ll keep you posted (From the original posting till now, I still haven’t quite accomplished what I had in mind…maybe this year!).

*****

I have enjoyed Home Improvement with Tim Allen for a long time.  I especially appreciate how he handles the”war of the sexes” without unnecessarily demeaning either males or females.  Family problems are solved in good but believable ways.  My Mom has given me a full set of the shows episdoes for Christmas over the years, and I am delighted.  If it can be done, I will probably wear out these DVD’s.

*****

Oh, and for you make resolutions and keep them, good for you!

Edited and updated, December 31, 2013

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