[Again, from my writing at Sidelines. Be safe this New Year’s eve.]
I have Hope. I want you to have it, too. Regarding race relations in America, this past year has been rough, bitter, painful, enlightening and transcendent from day to day, almost moment by moment in some communities across our continent. The deaths of almost-grown children at the hands of law enforcement officers, the deaths of law enforcement officers at the hands of crazed, grief-stricken mavericks, the death of a college-aged daughter whose car just happened to break down in the wrong neighborhood, the deaths of fathers at the hands of overzealous rookies – these were all spurred by a uniquely domestic disease that America is STILL trying to cure. Race. We’ve had some shots and taken some bitter medicine, but now it’s time to go to therapy if we ever hope to get through this.
Thus, at the beginning of this shining New Year where we have lost loved ones, given the cold shoulder to friends over words, witnessed stupidity mixed right along with heart-felt and “Right”-driven protest, cried bitter tears and developed new worries for our own children, here are some New Year’s Resolutions that we need to keep.
They will be few, so we can focus on achieving them. They will have maximum effect, because they will adhere to the SMART goal criteria borrowed earnestly from business management, as suggested by Bethany Blanton in her post, “SMART New Year’s Resolutions;” in other words, they will be Specific,Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
I will be your cheer-leader and adopt the ruthless positivity of your own personal trainer in encouraging you to work on them, to make them your own and to add to or replace them as necessary to achieve them, knowing that this is now Life-or-Death, not a simple drive to lose a few pounds but to shirk a disease that can kill.
So, here they are:
1) To Reset Our Police: We resolve to equip, respect and honor our police men and women enough to give them more down time – more vacation time with better pay, to provide mental and spiritual rejuvenation on a weekly basis, to train them not to “Shoot to Kill” with our citizens by exploring other options, and to integrate and sensitize them to each particular community they serve by requiring them to spend time in after-school programs to hear our children’s hopes, as well as in job search circles to hear stories of perseverance. SMART application: By next New Year’s Eve, 70%-80% of every police department in America should increase paid vacation time by 15%, conduct regular screening for mental illness if they don’t already, and provide ongoing community internships in non-police capacities.
2) To Educate the Mainstream: We resolve to improve the attitudes of Americans over 30, and to provide historical perspective to those younger, towards people of other races by using media outlets to draw more accurate pictures of the everyday lives of American people, whether Asian, African-American, Italian-American, Native American, Hispanic American, Irish-American, just American. SMART application: We raise funds to support screenwriters, artists, children’s book writers, historians, major actors, to bring to the internet and big screen more high-quality stories on American lives, fun apps that integrate history and diversity, and portray all children, teens, adults as valuable and irreplaceable no matter their skin color, hair texture, habits of speech, or dress.
3) To Improve our Personal Mindsets: We resolve to press “re-set” on our attitudes towards each other, to strive to achieve without stepping on each other or looking down on others because they live differently. SMART application: Volunteer monthly in a clothing bank, a food bank, a library, a domestic abuse shelter. Just once a month. Listen to stories. Some will make you angry. Many will inspire you. Just start. Call Monday and volunteer.
OK, I tried. Now for someone else to add a goal or two, or to make these even SMARTer or more realistic. They are off the top of my head and from the first layer of my heart. Time for others to try, too. Happy New Year.