The New Year is here. A time to start fresh. It’s interesting what a new calendar year can do for us psychologically. There’s something helpful about a reset point, a moment in time when we can pause, look behind and reflect and look forward to a new beginning.
Like most years, 2014 was a difficult one for the human race. ISIS. Ebola. Ferguson. #Blacklivesmatter. Boko Haram and #BringBackOurGirls. Malaysian Airline disappearances and crashes. Child immigrants coming from Mexico. Revolution and war in Ukraine. And so many more human rights abuses, as summarized in this video on the Human Rights YouTube Channel:
So this year as we make our resolutions and set goals for the new year, let’s consider resolving to bring an end to injustice, to be peacemakers, to learn more about our role in oppression. New Year’s resolutions are usually self-centered and focused on self-improvement, but they don’t have to be. Here’s a list of possible goals for 2015 that you could choose to adopt. Let me know if you do, or if you have other social justice resolutions of your own that you are committing to this year:
In 2015 we could resolve to:
- Follow the news. If you’re not already following national and global news, consider signing up for this great e-newsletter called theSkimm. It’s a quick summary of the daily major news points with a fun, easy-to-digest writing style. Or you could start listening to National Public Radio in the car on the way to work. Whatever you choose, make sure to get your news from multiple sources to ensure a less biased slant.
- Bring an end to police brutality by demanding that our local police departments look for ways to keep their officers more accountable. One idea is to pass the Michael J. Brown Law to equip police departments with body cameras. Not a perfect solution, but it’s a step in the right direction. Here’s a link to the petition and a sample letter you can send to your representative at Change.org.
- Eat less meat. This is related to animal quality of life issues, water quality, global warming, and health crises. I’m trying to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. It’s a small step, but if more of us ate less meat, the world would be better off. Here’s a quick video that outlines some of the reasons to eat less meat: “The Hidden Cost of Hamburgers.” Or you could read Michael Pollen’s book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” That’s on my list for 2015.
- Learn about privilege and racism in America. Look, none of us have this all figured out. We could all benefit from learning more about what race means in America and how we fit into the picture. I recommend doing this with a group of people, preferably people from a variety of racial groups. That way you can discuss what you’re learning as well as what you know from life experience. Go watch the movie Selma in select theaters now (All cities Jan. 9). Read Christena Cleveland’s blog. Read the books on this Buzzfeed list.
- Donate more money. There are so many great nonprofit organizations working around the globe to make peace, justice, and human rights a reality. But it takes money. Not all of us can be on the front lines, but we can send money. It’s not a lesser sacrifice to donate money. In fact, if we’re really serious about it, it could be a major sacrifice if we choose to reorganize our budgets around regular giving patterns. We could really make a huge difference if each of us donated 10% of our monthly earnings to a cause we believe in. Imagine what we could accomplish together if we pooled these resources?
- Volunteer in the community. Get involved in a local refugee resettlement agency by offering to drive new arrivals to appointments or practice English or teach them how to ride the city bus. Help out at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Mentor a child through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk or bring food over to a family with a new baby or sick family member in the house. The opportunities to make a difference are everywhere.
- Buy ethically sourced goods. It’s really overwhelming to try to do this with everything, but pick just one thing to buy fair trade or ethically sourced this year. I chose to buy only ethically produced makeup last year. Maybe for you it will be coffee. Or clothes. I buy the majority of my clothes second-hand now, since most of our clothes are produced in unfair labor conditions around the world. If you live in a city, this isn’t hard to do since there are so many thrift and consignment store options.
Those are just a few ideas for you. I’d love to hear how you’re resolving to make a difference this year in the comments.
Happy New Year!