While away with my family over the holidays, I took some time to write up 10 New Year's resolutions for 2018. While it's not always easy to come up with multiple thoughtful, practical resolutions to keep through the year, I recommend the practice — especially in a time like this. 2017 required a deeper attention and commitment to our nation's public life, in the face of unexpected political leadership that some are trying to "normalize." The shocks, dangers, worries, anger and vulnerability for so many people this year have indeed required us to go to a deeper place. 2018 looks very uncertain, and things could get worse before getting better — so, some New Year's resolutions are in order. Here are mine. I'll be praying and working through these resolutions as we head into 2018. I pray for your strength and courage as you set, and work to keep, your own.
10 resolutions for 2018:
- To start each day with a "yes!" to my faith — and to my personal and public morality. Especially since I will be saying no to so much this next year, I want to start by saying yes to God's love, yes to my allegiance to Jesus Christ, yes to my discipleship, which means that Jesus is Lord — against any other powers who think they have or should have absolute political authority. I want to say yes to engaged citizenship, civil discourse, service to what is right and courageous resistance to what is wrong. I want my "no" to begin with a deeper "yes!"
- To have the courage to say "no!" when that is required, wherever it is required. This includes the public arena, the political sphere, in the media and culture, in schools, in workplaces and even in the church. It will mean sometimes saying no to fellow Christians, and possibly even to members of my own family, when they defend and support ideas and actions that are antithetical to the gospel. I will try to demand conversations in churches about our gospel values, and to hold political discussions in Christian communities accountable to those values.
- To not wait to say "no," or wait to stand in opposition to wrong and dangerous ideas and actions, until I see how others will respond. To not be among the last to react to breaches of moral and civic behavior, but to count the cost and show my commitment to justice by being one of the first.
- To hold the Bible in one hand and the news in the other as I go through each day. I willtry to hold public decisions and events accountable to what our Scriptures teach and demand of us. I will also hold the U.S. Constitution close at hand, and try to hold political leaders accountable to that, too.
- To better answer the biggest challenges of 2018 by acting on my faith, rather than reacting from my emotions. To respond to genuine outrages with deeper commitment, instead of cyclical anger; to respond to despair with action, instead of cynicism, to combat hatred with deeper love and to counter feelings of hopelessness with decisions to act in hope, rather than feelings of optimism, because of my faith.
- To see crisis as both danger and opportunity. And to always be attentive to both, in every situation.
- To see evil and injustice as a call to go deeper. Deeper into the disciplines and practices of my faith; deeper into my relationships with allies and friends, especially across racial lines; and deeper into my relationships to those who are most vulnerable and targeted by injustice.
- To spend even more time with my family. Our children and grandchildren need to know what is going on, and how we and they can respond to it. I will try to explain things, and pray over things that happen in the world with them, not try to keep them from seeing or understanding dangerous things that are occurring. I will work to protect them by helping them interpret those things, and by assuring them that we will be together through it all.
- To pray for particular people who will be playing critical roles in the outcomes of political events in this country. I commit to praying for the courage of press — including media reporters, broadcasters, columnists, editors, producers and owners — that they would search earnestly and endlessly for the truth, and have the courage to print and tell it. I will pray for the judiciary to face the hardest questions with a commitment to the rule of law, more than the rule of politics. I will pray for the leaders in Congress, and all its members, that they would understand themselves as a separate branch of government that holds a necessary check on the Executive. Our Scriptures instruct us to pray for our political leaders, so I will also try to pray for President Donald Trump — that he would not see himself not as absolute, but as a public servant. In particular, I will pray every day for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign and presidency. I will pray for him daily, because I believe he may have the future of American democracy in his hands.
- To work and pray to grow in my trust of God, friends and community. Even if life in this country continues to spiral morally downward, I will try to trust in faith, hope and love — to believe the greatest of these is love — and to be ready every day to act, by faith, in hope, upon what I believe.
Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His new Audible spoken-word series, Jim Wallis: In Conversation, is available now, as is his book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.