Jack Levine: A time for reflection


Published: Friday, December 27, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

As we launch into the New Year, let’s reflect for a few minutes on who we are and where we hope to go in the 12 months ahead.

2013 was a year of both daunting challenges and new responsibilities. Life is about transitions and as an incurable optimist I believe the year ahead will open new doors and present promising opportunities for all of us.

Traditionally, New Year's Resolutions are about making a commitment to do something different in our lives, perhaps going in a new direction from that of the past.

In 2014 I resolve ..

* To appreciate my family, friends, and colleagues for who they are, what they mean to me and others, and to gracefully overlook some things they do (or don't do!). None of us is perfect and accepting that reality helps relationships flourish.

* To act upon wrongs that need righting, crass statements that require correction, and offenses that demand just responses. We set a positive example by not accepting negativity in others.

* To be a valuable teammate and to trust others to do their best. Each of us should know what position we play, and regularly practice our skills to be our personal best.

* To actively listen to the voices of children and elders. Accepting the wisdom of innocence and experience is both free and priceless.

* To accept that I don't know everything. By collaborating with others who know much more, together we can create a great brain trust and blend expertise.

* To pleasantly surprise someone every day with a genuine smile and unexpected kindness in word and deed. Life's subtle gifts of compassion and concern are cherished.

* To respect and celebrate the diversity of faiths, feelings, and fashions. Differences are natural and honoring each others' perspectives creates mutual admiration.

* To exercise artistic expression for its intrinsic value. The vitality of the instrumental, literary, dance, visual or vocal arts fuels the soul and expands the mind to new possibilities.

* To invest a thoughtful minute before I speak or act. Regret is often preventable. Reversing harm is one of life's most vexing challenges.

* To honor those who courageously sacrifice for us at home and abroad, care for our health, educate, protect us and perform the healing and helping arts so that our quality of life is improved.

* To share even if I think I don't have enough. Setting an example by giving to others in need is one of the best lessons for children to observe.

* To protect, defend and advocate for people who rely on me. Give special attention to the needs of others of every stage of life who may not know how to find their own voice.

* To preserve natural environments for their beauty and bounty. Natural settings are home to plant life and species which are too often victims of our wants, not our needs.

* To never give up on a person or a cause, despite the challenges we face. Perseverance is an attitude that exemplifies leadership, attracts allies, and creates meaningful change.

* To speak truth to power, but to be both polite and persistent. There's a fine line between persistence and pestilence. Resist aggressiveness, but advocate with assertion, confidence and commitment to the cause. Advocating for prevention policies and programs that keep bad things from happening is the most important of all investments.

Jack Levine is founder of the Tallahassee-based 4Generations Institute.

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