By the Gregorian calendar, today is January 1, 2020 — the first day of the 2020s. In the calendars of other world cultures and religions, today falls in the middle of 1469, 2563, 1441 and 5780. All calendars are human constructs, of course. But for most of us in Lancaster County, today is a special day. Another beginning. A day to be marked, perhaps, by a fine pork and sauerkraut meal, or myriad other beloved family and community traditions.
We have witnessed a silly semantics squabble this week over whether today marks the start of a “new decade.”
Frankly, we believe there are more than enough serious issues to tackle these days, so we’re not going to take either side in the Great Decade Terminology Showdown.
Suffice to say: It’s the 2020s, and welcome to it. We hope it’s a ... period of time that’s filled with joy, good fortune, good health and peace for all.
As today marks a new beginning, it is traditionally a moment when we make resolutions. Often these are measurable objectives that are self-focused; we may seek to improve our health or habits. These are important ambitions. We should always strive to improve ourselves.
But we also like wishes and resolutions that focus on our relationships with others and within our greater community. We especially liked these wishes from Lancaster County residents that were shared in Sunday LNP’s Perspective section:
— “I envision a Lancaster County where every child has a safe and healthy place to live. ... Together, our community can address the impact of trauma and other adverse childhood experiences to make sure that all children have the best opportunities for health, well-being and success.” (Alice Yoder, executive director, Community Health, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health)
— “My personal and professional wish is that we find ways to communicate better and that leads ultimately to a willingness to have our political leaders work together for common solutions to the problems our nation faces. In short, it’s about a desire to respect each other and find ways to compromise in dealing with potential solutions to our many national, state and local problems.” (G. Terry Madonna, director, Franklin & Marshall College Center for Politics and Public Affairs)
— “I hope that we will continue to lead with kindness in word and deed, and follow the examples of acceptance, forgiveness and love modeled by our amazing students. May we all seek to see the good in each other and use it to change the world for the better.” (April Hershey, superintendent, Warwick School District)
— “I wish that when we look into the darkness of problems and sadness, that we look for ways to help people. Giving to others and volunteering for causes brings measurable and lasting joy, and makes heavy work light. It also creates light of another kind: Light to shine into their heartache and sorrow. Light to shine so that no one is lonely. ... And light to shine so that everyone has dignity in our community.” (Andrew Szalay, executive director, Lancaster Lebanon Habitat for Humanity)
Those are all beautiful wishes. Helping others. Connecting with others. Being open to the views of others. That’s truly who we are in Lancaster County, isn’t it?
Take care of yourself
But here’s another thing about 2020:
It’s going to be a long year.
And not just because it’s a leap year, with a whole extra day to navigate.
We all know what’s in the daily news. Impeachment. Gun violence. Democratic primaries. Property taxes. Religious intolerance. Climate crisis. Immigration. International tensions. November’s presidential election.
These issues will easily overwhelm us, each waking hour — if we allow them to.
So here’s another resolution: Slow down and take care of yourself.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Find the pace that works for you, and don’t let others define that pace.
Take time to breathe. To reflect. To savor the little things.
Read that book you’ve been putting off.
Savor time with friends and family.
Chat with your neighbors.
Remember it’s OK to laugh.
Write a letter — like, actually write a letter.
We believe the time is there for these things. One way to find it: Many of us could certainly put down our smartphones and devices for an hour a day. And thus make time for all of the above.
We wrote in September about the problems of living with our eyes glued to the screens of our devices. Our fingers endlessly swiping and typing. “They’re perilously addictive for adults as well as teens. Our smartphones have taken over our lives. ... This rarely leads to contentment.”
So maybe we could all look up from our screens more often and see what’s truly out there in the world.
The kind of contentment that might bring is the final thing we wish for all of you in 2020.
Happy New Year.