Opinion

Some New Year's resolutions are serious

With the new year approaching, it’s time to start considering what resolutions we each will make.

Setting personal improvement goals is probably the thing most people think of when the idea of making their new year’s resolutions comes to mind.

And, of course, most of us take a lighthearted approach, knowing ourselves well enough to realize that we won’t be surprised at falling short.

In addition to this introspective approach of picking personal improvement goals, the times call for the more serious task of picking goals that involve an impact on society.

The slowly growing economy has left many people in financial straits, and the next couple of weeks would be a good time to think of what we might do about it.

Rather than spoil the usual lighthearted making of resolutions on or near New Year’s Eve, this more serious task should be done beforehand.

Our society does many things through government action that were long ago done through mutual aid societies and charitable organizations, so our actions related to government deserve consideration.

Paying more attention to the actions and statements of government leaders and candidates for office could be a good resolution for those who find it less than fun to do so.

It would probably be a hard resolution to keep, but the impact on society could hardly be denied.

Electing the right people and casting knowledgeable votes on ballot issues require enough effort that those who find politics uninteresting may not last through January before reverting to old habits.

Commun-icating personally with elected officials and candidates could have a bigger impact than might be imagined, but it takes a little effort to acquire enough knowledge to make a contribution to the discussion of issues.

In these times of stagnant or declining government revenue, there may also be room for more personal action whether through private organizations or government.

Take as an example the Kitsap County Veterans’ Assistance Program which provides temporary financial assistance to indigent veterans.

There could hardly be a better example of doing things through government that are also done through private organizations.

And the problem caused by relying on government is well illustrated by the county’s lack of revenue to meet the apparent needs of indigent veterans.

When we are accustomed to having government do things, we can go along without being aware of what is being done and what needs to be done.

The county budget for 2012 starts off with a significant reduction in funds appropriated for the Veterans’ Assistance Program.

Having revised the program a few years ago so that its expenditures exceeded the annual revenue from the levy, the county now faces the prospect of reducing what is spent — meaning fewer veterans can be aided.

If the county does less after having begun to do more since 2007, someone has to pick up the slack.

But if too many of us leave it all to government and the government’s taxing power, as often becomes our attitude when we rely so much on government, those who need help may not get it.

It’s a sobering thought that is best considered beforehand rather than when it can dampen the New Year’s Eve revelry.

The veterans’ program is just one example of how we came to depend on government action — and of the pitfalls when government revenue falls short.

Government can’t do it all, and probably shouldn’t try to do everything; but this means individuals have to consider what they can do differently about the needy in our society.

To make it a little easier for us to add our little bit to whatever is being done, one resolution may be good for all of us: Be thankful when an organization lets us know how we could help.

One last resolution is worth considering — overcoming the feeling that one person’s small donation of time or money makes too little difference to matter.

The entire network of government and private action consists of lots of small bits of time and resources, and they all matter.

 

Bob Meadows is a Port Orchard resident.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 18 edition online now. Browse the archives.