Each New Year is a time of possibilities. It is a time for reflection. We stop and consider where we are in our lives and we think about the changes we would like to make. It is the one time of the year where we really focus on self-improvement, and that is the key. Most resolutions are personal in nature. They rarely involve others, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With almost any resolution we make we can turn it into an opportunity to help someone else.

Unfortunately, most of our new year’s resolutions do not even last through January, let alone for a year or a lifetime. We soon begin to make our little excuses for not following through, and the resolutions are quickly forgotten. But what if we focused on others instead of ourselves at the beginning of the year? Perhaps we would stand a better chance of reaching our goals if the chance of success or failure had a direct outcome on other people’s lives. There is certainly no other area where you could have a more immediate and dramatic effect on human beings than in the fight against extreme poverty.

In the next 12 months 10,950,000 people will needlessly die from causes we can prevent or cure. Most of these deaths will be children, many under the age of five. If your new year’s resolutions could be tied to helping prevent those deaths you would have far more incentive to carry through on your commitments and decisions. After all, someone’s life would depend on you demonstrating the resolve necessary to live up to your new goals.

Suppose you decide to lose weight this year because you figure it would be cheaper than buying all new clothes. One obvious way to accomplish this would be to cut back on fast food. You could help yourself as well as starving children by passing up a meat based fast food lunch and instead sending that money to The United Nations World Food Programme where it could be used to feed meals to 20 children.

Or maybe this is the year you are finally serious about trying to stop smoking. You could tie your effort of avoiding lung cancer to the effort of preventing disease in developing nations. You could take the money you save by not buying a carton of cigarettes and send it to Malaria No More so that they could purchase mosquito nets to prevent this insidious killer from claiming the lives of innocent children.

Many people make a resolution to start a new hobby. However, this year you could consider getting involved in the effort to raise awareness about extreme poverty. Every 34 days one million human beings die from hunger, contaminated water, preventable diseases and treatable illnesses. Making a personal commitment to help stem this horrific death toll would be far more rewarding than any hobby you could engage in. Knowing that you are part of a world-wide effort to save lives would bring a level of satisfaction that you would not experience if you were to spend your free time pursuing only selfish avenues of expression.

Often people make a blanket resolution to try to change their entire life as much as possible. This includes being better organized, getting in shape, drinking less alcohol, trying for a better job, adding to their education, taking a trip, buying a bigger house and reducing stress. Of course the one aspect that all of these things have in common is that they are completely self-centered. Obviously we all need to look out for ourselves, and it is certainly desirable to correct areas of our lives that are out of balance – but, if we are creative, we can do that and help other human beings at the same time.

We simply have to ask ourselves what is really important. Setting a goal of cooking a new recipe each month for a year may seem worthwhile, but how does that measure up to feeding a starving child each month for a year? Deciding to take up gardening is nice, but instead of constantly watering plants what if you used that time to advocate for clean water in developing nations? Making the resolution to fix up your home is understandable, but what if you used at least some of that money to help provide shelter for refugees who have lost everything? If we would stop focusing on just ourselves, each resolution we make could be connected to the greater cause of helping humanity, and in the end that would truly improve our lives as well as assisting those who are desperate for relief.

You can make this the year when you decide to join the fight against extreme poverty. This can be the year when you say it is not right for 9,125,000 innocent children to die during the next 12 months. This can be the year when you say it wrong that the life expectancy in some poverty-stricken areas is only 45 years of age. This can be the year when you say it is not acceptable that the lifetime maternal mortality rate in certain areas of Africa is 1 in 16. This can be the year when you summon the courage to take a stand against the cynicism and intolerance that pervades our world.

Turn your new year’s resolution into something important. Dream big. Embrace the opportunity that is always before you to make the world a more just and fair place for everyone.



2 thoughts on “A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

  1. I completely agree with you on this. People are far more likely to continue through with a resolution if it’s for a person who needs help. This was very insightful. Thanks for sharing!

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