Tags: Donald Trump | Russia | communism | dali lama | military | soviet

Real Resolutions for 2019, Not Bumper Sticker Platitudes

Real Resolutions for 2019, Not Bumper Sticker Platitudes

(Natallia Hudyma/Dreamstime)

Wednesday, 02 January 2019 09:37 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Contemplating what I might write to begin a new year, my first thought was that this column should be about something really optimistic, yet doing so without devolving into simplistic bumper sticker platitudes.

My next idea was to offer some advice to others — you out there — about behavioral resolutions that will bring value to yourself, and hopefully to others as well. This seemed like a pretty good idea, but with an important caveat.

If I’m to offer truly honest and useful advice, a good test of such wisdom is with myself.

I will share my three big personal self-improvement challenges with you: 

Creatively Explore Common Grounds

In these current politically-polarized times I find myself becoming rapidly annoyed with people who almost immediately launch confrontational diatribes against views, priorities and individuals I hold in high esteem.

I am especially quick to take offense when those uttering such aggressive assaults appear to be well aware that I hold very different perspectives, are oblivious to my negative reaction, are poorly informed regarding the issue at hand, and/or assume a smug aura of superior moral consciousness and authority.

It’s easy to recognize such offenders. I regularly see one in the mirror.

Deeper examinations into this ideological abys reveal some broader, often quite pragmatic assessments. Are prospects for gaining and exchanging worthwhile insights from such confrontational engagements worth the inherent investments of effort and frustration?

Even if some disagreeable individuals appear to be total jack****s in some arenas, might they turn out be intellectual stallions, or at least entertaining trick ponies, in other topical pastures? And maybe even resolute jack****s serve an important purpose after all.

As Dali Lama XIV observed, "I took note of Buddha’s teaching that in one sense a supposed enemy is more valuable than a friend, for an enemy teaches you things, such as forbearance, that a friend generally does not."

Yes, forbearance. I can certainly benefit from a lot more of that.

Own Responsibility for Worthwhile Progress

I hear lots of people talk about problems "out there in the world."

Well-meaning media reporters and sensationalistic pundits constantly project vivid, frightening, demoralizing images on our psyches captured from ubiquitous cameras virtually everywhere.

The scale of problems and misery we witness is overwhelming — psychologically numbing. By contrast, we visualize our individual influence in addressing them vanishingly small.

Like taking the responsibility to vote, for example, knowing that the interest and research you expended to make informed decisions won’t significantly influence final outcomes.

Besides, none of the candidates are all that perfect, and the ones you like most may not stand a chance. Here, my pessimistic vote for Donald Trump readily comes to mind.

So sometimes I wonder, "why bother?"

Who is really going to know the difference whether I voted or not?

And then I come up with an answer that I suspect motivates others as well.

It's because I choose to care whether I vote or not, just as I choose whether or not to care — to take responsibility for — every other decision that frames whether or not I respect myself.

I won’t belabor any examples. You already know many of your own.

The main point here is to maybe start with taking more responsibility on a seemingly low- rung personal level; then gradually work your way as far up the responsibility ownership ladder as you care and dare. We should honor those commitments equally at all levels, both to ourselves and to others who have every right expect us to fulfill our promises.

Honor Freedom and Opportunity Legacies

It greatly disturbs me to witness a somewhat recent and growing lack of awareness and respect for our most eminently enviable American freedoms and opportunities. Tragically, the very concept of patriotism has now come under ridicule in some quarters as a non-globally-inclusive passé relic of outmoded and misguided nationalistic idealism.

Expansive travels abroad, early post-Soviet trips to Russia in particular, have imbued me with a deep appreciation for enriched quality of life benefits we Americans so often take for granted. The socially and economically destructive legacies of Communism became indelible life lessons.

Millions of true military patriots have and continue to demonstrate belief that America is well worth extreme risks and ultimate life sacrifices. This new year — and always  — let’s make it a special point to remember and honor them for the countless privileges we enjoy.

Thank you for your service.

Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles."Click Here Now.

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My idea was to offer some advice, about behavioral resolutions that will bring value to yourself, and hopefully to others as well; doing so without devolving into simplistic bumper sticker platitudes.
communism, dali lama, military, soviet
Wednesday, 02 January 2019 09:37 AM
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