Happy New Year
After a holiday break, OBXCommonGood returns to share news, events and volunteer opportunities on the Outer Banks. The break was longer than planned. We have been hit with a miserable cold and spent most of the last week hot, clear liquids and under cover. Today we have been hit with cold on the outside and beautiful snow. Hope everyone has lights and heat.
If anyone told you that the Outer Banks shuts down for the winter, they are wrong. Lots of events have been planned for January and February. Get out and expand your man, fill your tummy, and help your neighbor. You can volunteer indoor and out. Catholic teaching is big on Common Good. I didn’t realize that when I founded this publication called OBXCommonGood. When I search for Common Good, many of the results are from Catholic papers and colleges. We all can learn from those results. One result I really liked was an article on New Years Resolutions and the CommonGood. I share part of the edited article with you.
We all know the routine once Christmas enters the rearview mirror. Maybe we packed on a few holiday party pounds. Maybe we spent too much on gifts under the tree. No matter the ailment, there’s a new year just around the corner. “This is the year I keep my resolutions!” we proclaim—always in good faith to start. “No, really . . . this is it! I’m going to get healthy! I’m going to save money!”
Then life hits. We go back to work or school. The resolve we had just a few weeks ago fades. U.S. News reports 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Why are these commitments so hard to keep? One reason is New Year’s resolutions tend to have an individual focus. I’m doing something to improve my life, so the consequences of my actions or inactions only impact me. What if instead we took a more global approach to New Year’s resolutions? What if resolutions were about serving others and allowing ourselves to be transformed along the way?
Participate in Christian-Muslim dialogue Some local churches and mosques host interfaith dialogues, which are chances to come together and break barriers so often put up between people of different faiths. Actions like the executive travel ban have cast an unfair shadow over our Muslim brothers and sisters. Through dialogue, we come to know others for who they really are.
Go shopping with a refugee family Many refugees feel unsafe, fearing discrimination or getting picked up by an ICE agent. I knew a woman who went grocery shopping with her Somali neighbor every Saturday. Both got their errands done safely, and they became fast friends in the process.
Consume media with discerning eyes and ears Assumptions and generalizations are littered throughout online and print media today. Be alert to how news outlets portray people of different races or ethnicities. Are all sides of the story being told? How legitimate are the sources? It’s easy to get sucked into biased narratives that degrade human dignity.
Assist a teacher whose class includes students with disabilities More helping hands will make it possible for students with disabilities to be better integrated into the life of the community. If your parish does not have disability accommodations, address that with the parish council.
Knock on doors to help with voter registration Ensure that your neighbors are prepared to use their voices on Election Day by helping with voter registration.
Start a lunchtime conversation group at work to discuss social justice issues Do you believe black lives matter? Are you frustrated by pollution and other sins against the environment? Chances are others around you feel the same way. Start local and consider what your office can do to advocate for the common good.
Commit to regularly calling your local and state representatives Make your voice heard by the people with the power to enact better policies. Your senator knows which issues are most pressing to her constituents by the amount of communication made about the issue. The call can be brief. Create a simple script if you are nervous.
Protest peacefully outside your state capital A congressional staffer once told me the most effective way to be heard in politics is to show up. Bring a sign and speak your truth on an issue that is meaningful to you with others who feel the same way.
Share a meal at Ruthies Kitchen.
Offer your skills to a Room at the Inn. Maybe you are good at fixing bikes, cooking for crowds, or offering legal advice. See how your particular talents could be put to use at a local shelter.
Buy fair trade items The “fair trade” label on food and other products signals that the producers, often in developing countries, were paid a just wage and are working in healthy, safe environments. The extra dollar or two you spend on fair trade coffee can help improve the lives of workers globally.
Mentor a college student or person new to your field There will always be a learning curve to any new job. Offer to support someone just starting out by meeting for coffee or being available for a phone call. Listen to their questions. Help problem solve. Share your own wisdom.
Volunteer as a job coach at a correctional facility More than half of people recently released from prison are unemployed for at least one year after their release, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Read resumes or host mock interviews to help soon-to-be-released people get a head start on the job hunt.
Befriend someone of a different background Solidarity can be practiced only through encounters with other people. I am able to practice empathy better because I (a white American woman) have friends who are black, Korean, and male. Each of us brings different experiences and baggage to the table. We learn from each other.
Practice moderation Many around the world live on very limited resources. See what it is like to live with less, too. Hold to a one-drink or no-dessert limit when you are out to eat. Fast from meat on Mondays. Then donate the money you would have spent to a shelter.
Worship with people of other faiths Again, we learn about others through sharing experiences. Ever wonder what a Jewish Shabbat service is like? Ask a rabbi if you could attend a service one Friday. Take note of any commonalities you sense with your tradition. Ask questions about the differences.
Set up a compost station in your house The Natural Resources Defense Council reports Americans throw away some $165 billion worth of food every year. This is an injustice to the 42 million Americans who face food insecurity, and it creates colossal waste for landfills. Designate a bucket or corner of your yard for kitchen waste. Eventually you can use the compost for gardening.
Garden A pastor once preached that care for creation can be judged by the dirt under our fingernails. Stay close to creation by kneeling in its soil. Show your admiration for the gifts of the earth by tending a garden and watching its produce blossom.
Trip or walk a state or national park Stand in awe of the grandeur of God’s creation. Reverence the trees and trails with your hiking boots. Sometimes caring for creation means being simply and deeply present to the earth around you.
Make 2018 your year to commit to Building the Common Good. Choose one or two concrete ways you can honor human dignity and better the common good. Encourage your neighbors to do the same. Together, one step at a time.
Let Catholic social teaching shape your new year Our faith is too important to let slip.By Jessie Bazan