The year 2014 ended similarly to how it started; with a glass of cheap Russian champagne, biting gusts of cold and snow, and the echoing concussions of fireworks throughout the bustling city of Moscow. It was by no means an easy year, and I can’t say that I enjoyed every moment of it, but I can honestly say that I am a different person now than I was last year around this time and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Earlier this week a friend of mine asked if I had made any new year’s resolutions, and seeing as I have the willpower of a kid in a candy shop, I gave an unequivocal “no”. There was a stretch of time where I would make essentially the same resolutions every year – eat healthy, work out more often, spend less time in front of my computer screen – but things inevitably ended the same way. By March I would be back to spending my Saturday mornings marathoning TV series on Netflix with a half dozen glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts in front of me.
(What can I say…the life of a graduate student had its perks)
Anyway, as I was thinking about past attempts and failures at making New Year’s resolutions, and I realized that part of the problem was the way that I was looking at the New Year. I was acting as if Jan 1 was the starting line and everything previous was just background noise. After all, the new year is a blank slate and a chance to get it right this time…right?
The thing is, that isn’t the world that we live in. Around this time last year the protests in Kiev were picking up speed and the people of Ukraine were eventually able to instate a new democratically elected leader, but where is the country now? Approximately 5,000 people are dead and the Eastern Ukranian countryside is in ruins.
Last December the first cases of the Ebola virus in West Africa began popping up. To date, there have been over 21,000 reported cases of the deadly virus and at least 8,200 reported deaths. Although it has been contained in some countries, the virus is still wreaking havoc in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
In March, the fighting in Syria and its neighboring countries will enter into its 4th year. In that time, there have been somewhere between 210,000 and 280,000 deaths, a quarter of which have been civilians. On top of that, there are now at least 3,000,000 Syrian refugees.
These are only a few examples of the colossal events that have taken place in 2014, but I think you get the point. I can shrug off my inability (or unwillingness) to get back into shape over the last year, but the young Syrian refugee doesn’t get a redo and the Liberian family doesn’t get to have their loved ones returned to them.
So in 2015 I am going to make a different kind of New Year’s resolution; I’m going to commit myself to resolving the things that we as a country and a planet would rather leave behind in 2014. I am going to write to my lawmakers, gather with like-minded people of faith, and fight to see that at this time next year, we won’t be watching death tolls continue to rise.
Is anyone willing to join me?