Each year we wish each other a "Happy New Year", but what defines "happy"? Are we really wishing others a "Successful", "Profitable," and a "Responsible" New Year? Oops.
Arianna Huffington put together a "compilation of 2009's political and cultural detritus," in her two part post in The Huffington Post, "2009: The Things I want to forget" and "2009: Things I want to forget (part two)". Ironically, by commemorating events and people Arianna wanted to forget, she insures that we will remember them.
Perhaps by remembering the failures, bloopers, and idiocy of 2009, those events that make us unhappy, we can make 2010 better. Just below the surface of Arianna's list is the a clue to what distresses us most, to what makes us unhappy. The universal traits behind each listing is irresponsibility, lack of integrity, and failure of accountability.
Our responsibility, integrity, and accountability is not just to other humans, but also to the environment. When it comes to environmental responsibility, we get mixed messages from EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson in her holiday post on Facebook. Jackson recommended, "Ideas for staying green this holiday season, recycle your tree, save energy and more."
But what does "green" mean in the context used by Lisa Jackson? By accepting and using the word "green" as a ubiquitous symbol for environmental responsibility, is the EPA throwing the "baby out with the bathwater"?
Has "green" become a blanket to disguise environmental irresponsibility? Ads from gas guzzling cars, polluting oil and chemical companies to eco-unfriendly disposable diapers are swathed in green colors, as if by painting promotions and labeling their toxic products as "green," they symbolize environmental integrity, responsibility, and accountability.
The chemical companies that produce, transport, store, release highly toxic chemicals, and dump toxic waste into our environment disguise their websites, ads, and products by blanketing them in green colors and by labeling their products as "green." Spray on foam roofing, insulating, and sealant systems are being advertised and sold as "a green solution," by claiming their products saves on energy costs. Spray on foam roofing and insulation releases deadly products into the atmosphere far more damaging to humans that the use of oil is to the environment.
This week our media will focus attention on the best and the worst of 2009. For many, 2009 will be the year they want to forget- the collapse of the world economy, global warming, unresolved war issues, worldwide corruption and government scandals. 2010 can be the changing point for the next century. Twelve months from now, I hope we can look back and measure the best and worst of 2010, not only by our growth in prosperity, but also by our growth in integrity, responsibility, and accountability.
Instead of making traditional New Year's resolutions for leaner bodies and fatter bank accounts, develop a plan to grow in faith and love, and find balance in your responsibility for others and for the earth. For your 2010 New Years resolution, list at least twelve acts that can help you to be more responsible to others and to the environment. Write one act at the heading of each month on your calendar, and add a reminder on each day of each month.
May God bless you in 2010 and grant you a happy and safe New Year.