This post is from The Lutheran e-newsletter by Karen L. Wiseman, a United Methodist Church pastor, who is an associate professor of homiletics at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.
After a year of mass shootings, economic hijinks in Congress, hateful political rhetoric, absurd celebrity incidents and failed attempts at being a better people, I’m tempted to be cynical about 2013. But somewhere deep inside I’m still that kid who gathered with family on New Year’s Day to eat black-eyed peas for good luck and share our resolutions.
I haven’t made any resolutions in the last few years because I typically fail at keeping them within the first few months. But this year I want to try something new: I want to make some for our society. And yes, we may fail too, but I pray we will try to make them come true.
First, let’s resolve to end our society’s culture of obscene violence. Let’s end the sale of assault and assault-style weapons outside of the police and military. Let’s end the production of and sale of high volume ammunition clips. Let’s set an example as a culture that has been intimately damaged by the slaughter of the innocents and chooses to do and be better as a result. Let’s be a society that values life more than the Second Amendment. Our society will be better for it.
Second, let’s resolve to be more loving. Let’s take care of those around us who are weak, mentally and physically impaired, destitute, sick and/or living in poverty. Let’s resolve to do the right thing for our neighbors so they feel love in their lives in profound and personal ways. Let’s be willing to show mercy and not require some means-test for those in need to be considered worthy of help. Let’s be our best selves and help others to be their best selves. Our society will be better for it.
Third, let’s be more tolerant and accepting of those with whom we disagree or have profound theological, political or cultural differences. Let’s look for our similarities instead of always first focusing on the differences. Let’s be kinder to one another in our real lives and in the digital world. Let’s have civil conversations and listen to the opinions of others in our lives. Let’s show this to our children as the way to honor each other’s uniqueness. Our society will be better for it.
Fourth, let’s be a people who honor the faith of others while still being true to our own beliefs. Let’s be people of faith who welcome the stranger, visit the imprisoned, help the sick and bring the wounded stranger from the side of the road into a place of care. Let’s make a difference in the lives of others by being true to the God who loves us all. Our society will be better for it.
Last, let’s be open to affirming the rights of others. Let’s see people of color and work to right the injustices inflicted upon them. Let’s listen to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community’s stories of injustice and honor them with acceptance and greater moves toward full inclusion. Let’s hear the desperation of kids in failing school systems and work to make things more just. Let’s cherish the elderly and young children in ways that protect their safety and care for their needs. And let’s make the effort to connect with each other — not just on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, but in real life. Our society will be better for it.