It’s always a temptation at the beginning of a new year to want to make fresh starts. That’s why we make resolutions and try to improve where we are, or start again from scratch. It’s natural, too, after the Christmas binge to want a better, cleaner life, from trying out Veganuary to simply eating less chocolate. I love an opportunity for reflection and the start of a new year is as good a time as any. So, projecting my thoughts forward to the end of 2023, the changes I’d like to see most of all can be summed up in the word respect. Here are my five suggestions about how and where I’d like to see more of it. The points are in no particular order.
- We can strive to be respectful in what we say about others. My wish is that people wouldn’t say or write deliberately cruel things about other people. There is a trend to single out individuals for abuse on the hide-and-speak of social media. People often think it is their right to say damaging and harmful things as opinion. It is bullying. If a ten-year-old said such things in a school class room, they’d be suspended immediately. It isn’t all right to be rude and pass it off as a comment. Often, people need to be much more respectful about what they say to others. My mum used to tell us as children, if you’ve nothing good to say, say nothing at all. It’s a wise thought here.
- Respect freedom of choice. We don’t all need to sing the same chorus. If someone’s life choices are different then that’s part of the richness of diversity, as long as no one else is harmed. We’re not clones. Let’s celebrate differences and share thoughts.
- Respect those who need our help. There are many unfortunates who need support, not derision or distance. We’ve had postal strikes, rail strikes, public sector workers’ strikes and it’s saddened me to hear people I like saying, ‘Oh dear, my Christmas card might be late,’ or ‘I had to use the car to get to work this morning – how annoying!’ The strikes are because people’s voices need to be heard and they deserve respect for the hard work they do. I also know of people who went to great organisational lengths to support strikers by making sure their own lives worked in tandem with the strikers’ planned action. And I know a lovely postman who had to break strike action because he couldn’t afford to keep it up. It’s ridiculous that nurses need food banks and firefighters can’t pay bills. Low paid workers deserve more. They need respect, solidarity and better pay. There is money to be found. The government need simply to look in the right places…and they know where they are…
- Respect people we don’t know. It’s easy to write off whole groups of people if we’ve never walked around in their shoes. But how can we help those who are having a tough time? Last week, I heard a story of someone who visited a food bank with an armful of groceries, and the organiser took the bags of food up quickly and said, ‘Just in time. A working woman with three kids has phoned to say she has nothing for the children’s dinner in twenty minutes…’ and rushed off thankfully. No one should be in a position where there is no food on the table and no warmth in the house. Imagine how that mum must feel about her situation. The above comment about the government applies here too. It’s a matter of wider respect.
- Respect those we know. Respect ourselves. I’m approaching this year with self-care on my own agenda, intending to share the strong belief that we are all worth it; we each deserve happiness, comfort, kindness, love. Author Megan Jayne Crabbe in one of her empowerment messages said, We can’t see the beauty in everything we are because we’ve been taught to first see everything that we’re not. That’s so true, and the answer isn’t to blame parents, teachers, those close to us. Instead, we can stand together and see the beauty in each other, in the world and in ourselves, and speak positively about it.
I’ll clamber off my soap box now and read my words back, then I’ll have a good think about how I can make more positive changes. It’s easy to write hopeful words, but often it’s also too easy to do nothing more. Action, and the right action, is important. Any suggestions welcome.
I’ll start by wishing you all happiness, good health, love and joy in 2023.