On Resolutions

Happy New Year hat in trash
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On Resolutions

by Doug Scibeck

Have you broken your new year’s resolution yet? It’s a time honored tradition, and a running gag every winter to fill the time after the mayhem of holiday activity stops. You resolve to do something in the new year, usually a nice thing to make your life better or yourself a better person. Getting in shape, losing weight, stop smoking, reading more books, all that kind of stuff stereotypically rounds out the average top ten list of resolutions.

Now the funny part of resolutions is that most people wind up not keeping them, not for very long at least. Very few people actually make these noble vows a habit that lasts longer than a couple of months. To be honest most people barely make a month. (As a side note, that is why I did not make any resolutions. Spares the briefly uncomfortable realization another good intention bit the dust.) Google how long people manage to keep resolutions and it looks rather discouraging. One news article says 80% of people do not make it to March. But that is a UK paper polling Brits, and I know we Americans are made of sterner stuff. (For our British cousins, visitors, and general Anglophiles don’t be offended, please spare my your outrage, everyone thinks their country is the best because there’s no place like home no matter how awesome the UK is.)

“…80% of people do not make it to March.”

Getting back to resolutions, maybe instead of making personal ones that, odds are, will inevitably be forgotten, we can make collective ones. Neighborhoods have been coming together to address the deluge of development proposed for the town. That’s a good place to start.

Change is coming. It continually has been since 1662 and always will be. A good resolution will be to accept that fact. (I’m looking at you Adams Court/Bassett Street; and Hendries, your days are, hopefully, numbered, too.) That resolution can be relatively easy to keep, and will save people a lot of stress. NIMBY-ism (Not In My Back Yard) can be a good thing, like not wanting a biological research facility housing and studying things like Small Pox and Anthrax located in South Boston. But absolute opposition to something like a new office or apartment building is less so. Organizing to influence how change evolves is good. Organizing to stop any change is ultimately detrimental and self-defeating. Everything was new at one time, and opposed by someone. Changes are inevitable. Isn’t is better to work to influence how things change rather than trying to hold back the tide?

“Organizing to influence how change evolves is good.”

Along with resolving to accept that the town will evolve, another resolution could be to come together as neighbors to work to amicably influence change. Opposition is good as it provides opportunities to consider alternatives, maybe even find better solutions. Obstruction or delaying, on the other hand, tend to generate distrust and resentment. That sort of atmosphere produces results that makes no one happy.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Development will add on to problems that already exist in town, like traffic and lack of parking. None of the town’s problems will be solved overnight. But the change that can bring relief has to start somewhere. We have to decide if development is the opportunity to start that relief-bringing change, because keeping things the same isn’t working. Just something to think about. Maybe we won’t keep these resolutions. Doesn’t hurt to try.

“…the change that can bring relief has to start somewhere.”

As JFK said, “We choose to … do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we will win.” Yes, he was talking about going to the moon, but it applies to how we will guide development in town also. In the end, efforts will be rewarded with acceptable outcomes, and unlike the moon landing where some people think that was faked, at least everyone will see the results with their own eyes. For that reason everyone should resolve to get the inevitable right.

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