Typically, the New Year's resolution involves quitting smoking, quitting drinking, losing weight or spending more time with members of your family. You might switch from cigarettes to a vaper, join Alcoholics Anonymous, join a gym, or try to work less overtime to accomplish these goals.
Of course losing weight is an inevitable corollary of Christmas, when overindulgence is not only indulged but encouraged and egged on from all sides. And of course by the end of this joyful season nobody wants to look at a weighing scale at all. It would be interesting to see the annual increases of gym memberships in January to reflect upon the consequences of the annual booze up and pig out that we partake of for quasi-religious purposes. Not that there is any real reason to object to a feast-ive season but as the old adage goes: moderation in everything including moderation.
Alas, moderation is usually what happens as the first month goes on with regards to these much vaunted resolutions, as they have often petered out by February. It is entirely possible that January is simply a bad month to begin a really serious resolution. For many in the Northern hemisphere it is a long, dark gloomy month that takes forever to reach payday, and this generally means just paying the Visa bill for all that we blew over Christmas. We suffer through the cold and the ice and snow knowing that there are still two months of winter to go. Once the Christmas buzz is gone we have little energy left except to endure and survive, and little to gird our loins with to fight fat, addictions and so forth.
Perhaps instead of a New Year's resolution we should all start New Year's revolutions and simply spend the month of January carefully crafting a manifesto. We could spend the first week deciding which revolution we most want to create, then map out a trajectory to achieve this goal, then write about it in detail as we move towards building our manifesto. By the time we reach February we will have a well constructed game plan and know exactly which step we will be taking where and when.
Of course a revolution doesn't have to mean changing the world, but it's interesting to think what revolutions have happened recently. Actually there really haven't been many this side of 2000. Come to think of it, there were so many in the twentieth century that perhaps we are running low on them for now. The automobile and the assembly line, aviation and easy international travel, radio, the telephone and global communications were all well under way by the 1920s.
Television was first demonstrated in Soho, London in 1926 and was being beamed into the homes of the British elite by the 1940s. By the end of the 1960s supersonic transport via the Concorde was possible. And let's not forget how lives were liberated by the progress of home appliances… nobody today remembers the endless toil needed to run a home without them. Finally, we can't even touch on the vast social change brought about by all of the political revolutions that happened throughout the twentieth century.
So what can we point to in the last few years that has changed the world? The rise of smartphones and social media have certainly seen a revolution in the ways people do so many things… and there have been some major breakthroughs in medicine recently, but that seems to be about it. So maybe for your next New Year's resolution you could resolve to figure out the next revolution that humanity truly needs. We used to say “the sky's the limit” but I believe this limitation no longer applies.
By Gregory Edwards, tutor at OISE London