Christmas brings presents and New Year’s Day brings resolutions. We can exchange the presents that didn’t fit or work for better alternatives, so we can continue to enjoy the gift in the days and weeks ahead. But the impractical resolutions many of us make in a burst of fervor for how we are going to be better in 2009 are never replaced by more useable alternatives. We just let them fade away quietly, and then complain about how nothing ever changes.
So let’s make that the resolution for next year. Let’s agree to stop complaining. Each time we are about to complain about something, let’s stop for one minute to see if we can do something positive about the situation instead of just whining.
For example, we all are aware of the hostility of the government for anything spiritual if "spiritual" means Judeo-Christian. We are also aware that the hostility is growing. But imagine what would happen if in 2009, instead of complaining, we more actively practiced our own faith.
So we take the first 2 minutes of our day to remember the One Who gave it to us and offer it back to Him. We begin every meal with a brief thanksgiving, whether we are in public or not. We find 5 minutes in a lunch hour to excuse ourselves from our friends and co-workers to read or meditate. And then we end the day with a family prayer.
Or perhaps, instead of complaining about the fact that people no longer know or appreciate what America’s greatness, we begin to learn and share her history with our children and our friends. So instead of reading the latest novel, we read some biographies of America’s heroes. And then we talk about them, and share them when we are finished. It’s like creating mini American book clubs.
Or, instead of just complaining about the national debt, we took some simple steps to change our own financial situation, and taught our children to do the same. We could put a glass bottle in the kitchen and let everyone dump all their loose change into it each night. The bottle is the family "savings account", and when it is full, the change gets counted and then the family decides what to do with the money – whether that means dinner and a movie, or creating a vacation account. Our kids begin to learn about the value of saving, and we get to do something fun without blowing the monthly budget.
As the examples show, the point of the resolution is to take responsibility for how we live our lives.
America’s greatness lies in the fact she recognizes that every citizen is endowed with the liberty to pursue happiness. Our founding fathers did not say that we were endowed with the liberty to have a government make us happy. They knew that such a situation is impossible because the more any person relies on the government, the less liberty that person has.
But whether we openly rely on the government for happiness by looking for the next benefit, or inferentially rely on it by complaining about how the government is behaving badly and then passively waiting for the state to change so we can be happy – we have bought into the impossibility.
Liberty can only exist when those endowed with it, actually exercise it. So in 2009, let us resolve to use the liberties we have been blessed with, and take responsibility for our own pursuit of happiness. Our families, and our nation, will be the stronger for it.