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  • Last modified 34 days ago (Dec. 28, 2022)

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In search of
a successful resolution

Resolutions that most of us started crafting this week as yet another year began slip-sliding away are as likely to become broken in coming weeks as water mains were on a colder-than-usual, longer-than-usual Christmas weekend.

The average American, according to a study that probably consumed way too much in taxpayer money, succeeds in keeping less than 12% of New Year’s vows each year.

That doesn’t mean we should stop promising to do whatever’s necessary to improve our lot in life. Accepting problems rather than addressing them is one of the surest ways to let problems multiply beyond the ability of any resolution to resolve them.

But it’s useful at this time of year to look back on what we resolved in the past and see whether our vows of Auld Lang Syne were something we merely recited or were realistic goals to which we actually committed ourselves.

In this space a year ago, we resolved to buy a long extension cord and donate it to the City of Marion so all Christmas lights downtown could be on at the same time.

It must be our fault. We never bought the cord. And as anyone who has driven downtown at night can attest, the number of times all of Marion’s Christmas lights have been on at the same time this year can be counted on one hand.

With new streetlights aimed at sidewalks and storefronts, something more than merely outlining buildings with lights may be needed. But what has become of the pride of workers charged with maintaining lights already installed? Do they no longer care whether they’re on the naughty or nice list?

Many people collecting government and private paychecks clearly seem to take pride in the services they provide for the rest of us.

Firefighters from three towns braved elements at 1 a.m. Christmas Day to battle a fire in a shed nowhere near any of their homes. Fire chiefs in both Hillsboro and Marion personally checked multiple false alarms related to freezing pipes so members of their departments didn’t have to go out more than necessary.

Whether they’re law enforcement officers, nurses, convenience store clerks, paramedics, garbage collectors, or garbage disseminators like those of us in the news business, working when others don’t, in conditions that others avoid, is a level of service and a calling that should command respect and generate justifiable pride.

Many workers find their morale bolstered not by bosses or paychecks but by satisfaction they take in providing service to others who need it.

Some, however, seem to put themselves above the community they are charged with serving. They insist on reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but the only allegiance they truly possess is to themselves.

They demand that, when a holiday occurs on what normally would be a day off, they get an extra day or two — even if the whole point of time off was so workers can celebrate on the holiday itself, not to fulfill some self-centered sense of entitlement.

The vaunted work ethic we all talk about when trying to lure businesses to our community often is just as hit-or-miss as is the supposed friendly nature of our community.

A quick glance at Facebook or a venture into any of the cliques that attempt to rule reveal all sorts of people saying all sorts of mean things about others.

An attempt to walk, much less drive, on sheets of ice that covered every roadway, parking area, and sidewalk over the weekend reveals that many were more concerned with their four days off than with providing a public service by spreading a bit of salt, sand, or ice-melter.

We worry, as well, not just about lack of actual service. We also worry when lip service substitutes for actual insistence on things changing.

Two years ago, after a horrific accident involving an unsupervised young ATV driver not wearing appropriate safety equipment and riding in a place where ATVs weren’t designed to go, a resolution on this page urged adoption of regulations to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Had the community insisted, rather than spending time worrying about whether politicians planned to take our guns or control our border, perhaps another tragedy could have been avoided.

It wasn’t a resolution, but this past summer we warned that Marion was hiring a city administrator known for being a “lightning rod” and that it was providing a contract laden with costly buyouts for an official with a history of having his contract bought out.

This week’s headlines seem to be a “we told you so,” even though in some regards it appears as if some on the city staff, unwilling to have their ways challenged by a new boss, lay in wait to find admittedly worrisome transgressions and dramatically use them to force action.

It’s time for all of us to start listening to the pledges and prayers we routinely recite, begin doing everything we can to help our neighbors and community deal with anticipated problems, and stop acting as if it were someone else’s job to solve the problems we face.

If we find ourselves tempted to let another resolution to which we provide only lip service, we need to give ourselves a virtual smack in the lips and recognize that we and we alone are responsible for making community better.

Urging others isn’t enough. We must instill the urge in ourselves. And, as always, it starts with making an honest assessment, regardless of whose feelings might be hurt, of where our problems might lie before they stack up to the point that no one can do anything about them.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Dec. 28, 2022

 

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