It’s that time of year when we start to think about change, and how we might do things differently in 2016. Even if you don’t believe in resolutions as such, it’s hard not to take stock of your life at the start of a new year. As well as the usual vague plans about doing more exercise, eating more healthily, reading more etc. etc, my main aim for the year is more nebulous, to be a better person and do more good.
I like to think of myself as a good person (and who doesn’t?), but what do I actually do to make the world a better place? I hope I’m a decent husband, father and friend, and everyone of those things in its’ tiny way does make the world a little better. But other than that? Not so much really. I haven’t especially gone out of my way to perform charitable deeds, or to live my life in an ethical manner, and my attempts to be a good person are mainly limited to trying to avoid doing bad things, rather than actively doing good.
Fatherhood has been one of the triggers leading to me wanting to become a better man. When children first develop a sense of right and wrong, it tends to be very black and white (although they are also rather good at ignoring it when it suits them), as they have not yet been exposed to the inevitable compromises of the adult world. When my daughter grows old enough to ask moral questions, I want to be able answer them without (always) feeling like a hypocrite. Which means that I need to spend more time doing what I believe is right.
As an example, a little while back I stopped eating meat. I’d been concerned for a long time about the meat industry, and also the impact of meat consumption on the environment, but I’d never done much about it. I’m certainly not to claim eating meat is inherently wrong. I did for 35 years, and may well end up going back to it. Plus, I still eat fish and dairy, which plenty of people would think is poor form. The point is that I did what I thought was right, even if it meant giving up something I enjoy. So more of this kind of thing is my aim in 2016.
Fatherhood, however, can also be an excuse for not doing the right thing. Many a person abandons their principles in the name of doing what’s best for their family (an example being people who profess their hatred of the inequities of private education, then send their children to private school anyway when they can afford it). Also, my time is more limited than ever and my number one priorities are my wife and child, so it can be hard to find the time for good deeds and helping others. I suppose what I’m looking for is, in the words of Homer Simpson, something noble but easy. I suspect, however, that this may be hard to find.
No doubt 2016 will be a year of compromise, as every year seems to be, but I hope I can find ways to live up to my own moral code and the time to do the odd good deed. I shall have to read this piece again on 31st December, and see those hopes were fulfilled. Happy new-ish year everyone.