I wrote this for the New Year's Day issue of LifestyleBohol.
It's already 17 minutes past January 1st in the Philippines as I'm posting this, but for the rest of the countries in the world where it's still New Year's Day, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
This day marks the beginning of 2012 CE for those of us who use the Gregorian calendar. On my part, it’s very tempting to write a long did-you-know essay, but don’t be discouraged early because I won’t be doing that. Sadly, I only have a couple of pages, so I’ll just leave the research work to LifestyleBohol’s readers as homework. Well, that’s if they even care to know. For now, let’s just stick to the New Year’s Day that we’re celebrating.
You may not be aware of it but January 1st is the closest thing the world has to a global public holiday, being that most countries use the same official calendar. On that note, it’s important that we honor the tradition of creating positive changes in ourselves to live by throughout the rest of our lives. It is on this day that most sensible people reminisce the year that just passed and contemplate on making themselves better.
What have you done in 2011? What are the things that need to be changed? What should you choose to keep doing this year? Are there habits that need to be killed? What can you do to help your children thrive on Earth after you’re gone? The questions come pouring endlessly, but they need to be addressed the right way.
I know this all sounds cliché, but you have to admit that I’m making sense. While each day of a person’s life is a chance to do good, the worldwide tradition of declaring resolutions for self-renewal on New Year’s Day is the perfect opportunity for those celebrating to make the world a better place. The ancients have always regarded the month of January to be one of fresh starts. It is, in fact, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions. See? This is something that’s been going on since Julius Caesar instituted the Julian calendar in 46 BCE. Why don’t we translate this tradition into a global peace-building endeavor?
Last Friday was José Rizal Memorial day for us Filipinos. It was preceded by Christmas Day—the day celebrating the birth of Jesus. Those were two men whose lives—as indubitable rationality posits—we should emulate. They both lived to benefit humanity in so many ways. They both defied tyrannical authorities that held their beloved people captive. Among several other things, Jesus taught his people to break away from their enslavement to irrational customs and to search for the Kingdom of heaven within, while Rizal helped us Filipinos muster the strength to destroy the fetters that caused us to continually permit others to enslave us. It is absolutely fitting that those dates come days before the dawn of the new year. I don’t believe I need to explain further.
If 30% of all Boholanos abide by the selfless positive resolutions they create today, imagine what the province would be like at the end of the year. On a global perspective, even if only 3% of the world’s population chooses to make lasting changes in themselves, the world will definitely see much better days. Let me put an emphasis on the word “selfless.” For instance, instead of simply saying “my resolution for this year is to lose weight,” give it a noble cause by adding “so I’ll be more physically capable of helping others,” or “so I’ll be healthy enough to raise my daughter and see to it that she grows up to be a happy and good woman,” or something like that. You don’t necessarily have to give your aesthetic and livelihood-related goals up; just add something fruitful to it and it’s sure to make a difference.
Don’t ever throw the idea off as nonsense. I know the feeling of having had so many unfulfilled aspirations, but it’s never too late to add them to next year’s list. And like I said, put something related to character-improvement and you’ll be surprised at how quickly other things will fall into place. This is because transformation begins within. In 2013, you’ll be a better person without even knowing it—whether or not you have done every material-related thing on your year’s to-do list. It only takes a willing and active consciousness and you’ll be an instrument of good, whether you’re poor as a mouse or richer than King Midas.
I acknowledge that this is harder for some than others. It’s an especially gargantuan quandary for people who live selfish lives. I wouldn’t disagree that the world’s socio-politico-legal culture is wretched and stained with a deep shade of wickedness, but are we going to allow ourselves to remain slaves to it forever? We can make a choice anytime we want. We could choose to tread the positive path tomorrow, next month, or four years later. However, the best time to do it is now. That’s an incontestable fact. Yesterday has passed and tomorrow is covered by a cloud of uncertainty, so why not choose to make good today? I don’t believe there’s anything bad about being good.
Moreover, what’s extra special about today is the fact that you’d be joining many others who have come across a life-changing spark and are wise enough to tag themselves as part of the worldwide movement of life improvement on New Year’s Day. Don’t toy with second thoughts; just do it because you know it’s the right thing.
Beyond fireworks, loud noises and religious celebrations with mass services and bonfires of burning straw statues, today, we have a genuine opportunity en masse to make the world a better place for the ones to come after us. Sure, we may party and jump and sing and dance and eat good food and drive all over Bohol screaming “Happy New Year,” but we must remember that behind the merriment, this day is celebrated to bring about new beginnings—positive ones, of course.
So forget the brouhaha about the alleged global annihilation on December 21st. Yes, there will be storms and earthquakes and tornados and other devastating catastrophes all over the world this year. You know what climate change does, don’t you? Let’s deal with it rationally instead of jumping to conclusions based on misconceptions. Concentrate on doing things that will work to make the world a better place to live in rather than biting your nails while waiting for a doomsday event that isn’t going to happen anyway.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!