Maintain fortitude every day
The cheapest way to start something new has to do with the calendar. It so happens that it takes about what we call a year for Earth to make a full rotation around the sun. So we jump on this fact and say we enter a new year. This is the majority opinion, and it prevails over lunar religious calendars such as those of Islam and Judaism, and over the lunar calendars of Asia.
I say that our calendar is the cheapest way to start new because it is a cultural choice to start a new year now. Really, there is "nothing new under the sun," including the desire to have an easy renewed beginning. Perhaps we even indulge in resolutions for the new year, and if we were to keep them, then there would be a price tag on the change of calendar. But resolutions are not vows, and no one holds us to the resolutions. That we picked this moment, this artificial moment, to make them indicates a lack of urgency and, indeed, reality.
Still, things could change if the resolutions became points to ponder and discuss. That way, friends and families could get in on it, and communications would have a chance to improve. We could let the doctor in on it if resolutions affect our health. We could let the pastor know. Catholics and Orthodox have what is popularly called "confession," and that would be a solemn way to enter the issues raised by the intentions.
Religious wisdom teaches that circumstances always change and that resolution is the secret foundation of faithfulness. Fortitude is called the aristocrat of virtues. Marriage Encounter, a religious movement to promote good relationships, reminds us that love is a decision and not a feeling. We know that the circumstances of 2006 will more than likely shake our resolutions and our resolve. Without adding anything new, we will find it hard enough to be human beings even if we are religious.
The Roman Catholic community I belong to, the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, does not permit oaths, promises or vows. In fact, such resolutions are expressly forbidden.
What keeps us together? Some wags say spite! But the founder lived at a time of broken vows and would not permit any bond except love. No love, then go. We can never be dispensed from love and demand anything except love. We were founded officially in 1575 and are still trying to make a life without vows something real. We can only do this the way alcoholics can, one day at a time.
We found out waiting for a new year is easy to put off. We are asked to begin today.
The Rev. Halbert Weidner is pastor of Holy Trinity Church in East Honolulu.