Ushering in the New Year is an exercise in balancing realistic expectations with fantastical possibilities. From the moment the clock strikes twelve, each of us resolution makers sets out achieve new goals, sometimes altering our mindset, behavior, or lifestyle to see them through to completion. This ability to be flexible in our thinking is inherently human, and is what allows us to innovate, make new friends, and learn from others.
Change can also be overwhelming, which may be why less than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to Pew Research Center (over 18 years, an average of 40% of those polled committed to resolutions when the calendar changed). Instead we hold fast to our own opinions, biases, and worldviews that may lead us into challenging conversations or uncomfortable situations. I believe that rather than viewing these differences as insurmountable trenches, we have to find ways to create bridges between divergent groups and places for constructive dialogue to uplift everyone’s self-worth. We are the architects who can build unity, giving all of us a sense of being heard and valued.
For communities here at home and across our nation, tolerance is the material we need to construct the coming decade. Rather than building silos that only constrict our worldview and promote a false sense of comfort, tolerance gives us the resources to listen and respond to a spectrum of opinions without undermining another’s value. However, tolerance should not be treated like your typical New Year’s resolution, to be discarded when the going gets tough: it is a skill that must be honed through experiences – both comfortable and uncomfortable – to become a potent catalyst for civility in our community.
As one decade progresses to the next, we need a resurgence in civic engagement to bring diverse people and organizations together. When we participate, we actively shape our future. Movements don’t appear spontaneously. The momentum generated from civic engagement happens locally.
At the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, we believe that philanthropy is a vehicle that ensures everyone’s voice are heard and that a diversity of views is respected, celebrated, and encouraged to move our community forward. I am proud of our local network of donors, nonprofit partners, foundations, and community members working hard to find opportunities by partnering with others for a more unified community.
As we take a bold step into the new decade, I have no doubt our community has the momentum to bring about real opportunities that unite rather than divide us, as long as we lead with a mind open to possibility and a healthy dose of tolerance in our hearts. If we can accomplish this together, there is nothing that can stop us.
With hopes for a prosperous 2020,