C.W. DAWSON JR: Suggestions for Suggestions for improving ourselves and our world

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The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes a weekly column for the Missourian.

It is the time of year that we make resolutions. January always causes us to ponder areas in our lives that need improvement. We resolve to eat better, work out more, save more than we spend, etc. Indeed, these are noble and worthy goals. Like last year, I present to you some things that you might want to add to your list. My hope is that these suggestions will improve who we are, and the world around us. I didn't format these as a list because I thought it looked odd. But feel free to redo it if you think it works. - LJ

1. Reconnect with a friend or family member you have not communicated with lately. When was the last time you talked to your old high school classmate, or spoke to your aunt? In reconnecting two things usually happen: you find out how life has presented all of us with some strange events, good and bad; and, how we have survived no matter our lot. Reconnecting has a way of reminding us that we are products of our personal history. Reconnecting has a way of blessing you and giving you the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else.

2. Forgive someone. Life is so short. Why hold on to hatred and bitterness when joy can be acquired simply by saying (and meaning it!), “I forgive you.”

3. Encourage someone. All of us have ugly, negative people around us. It is easy to fall into negativity when constantly bombarded by it. Do not be a hater. Strive to encourage someone every day. Lift up others, even when it seems that others are slow to encourage you. And, when others do not encourage you, encourage yourself.

4. Read something that inspires greatness in you. Great books are great for a reason. They have inspired women and men from every walk of life. If you do not like the classics, read contemporary literature. But whatever you do, avoid garbage. If we are what we eat, we also become what we read.

5. Pray/meditate more, curse and complain less. The physical benefits of prayer and meditation are without question. A routine of prayer/meditation lowers blood pressure, strengthens heart functions, and aids brain activity. Cursing and complaining do the opposite and accomplish nothing. The choice is obvious.

6. Engage in acts of random kindness. I said this last year, but it is worth repeating. It really is nice to be nice. Somewhere along the line we have lost the importance of kindness. Somehow, we must reclaim the idea that kindness is a necessary part of being human. Kindness must be extended not only to family and friends, but to the stranger and particularly the “aliens in our midst!”

7. For 30 days in a row, tell your beloved that you love them. We ought to tell our beloved “I love you” every day. But life can immerse us in routine and we forget. So, for 30 days, tell your beloved you love them by voice, card, text, crayon, something. Watch what happens!

8. Recommit to non-violence. If nothing else, the death of young Mr. Anthony Warren is a grim reminder that we must commit to non-violence. Mr. Warren was a bystander who loss his life by a stray bullet. Bullets have no names on them. They just kill. Guns are not the only weapons we use to commit violence. The most lethal are our tongues. Here’s a non-violent pledge that’s adaptable: “I won’t harm you with words from my mouth, nor weapons of my hands, I love you, I need you to survive.”

9. Create something. When was the last time you wrote a poem, or a song, created something with your hands, baked your special cake, or enrolled in a calligraphy class? One of the ways, as humans, we are in the image and likeness of God is that we are creators. Be like God, go create.

10. Play more. A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my grandsons did not know how to wrestle. Well, I got down on the floor and we had a free-for-all wrestling session. We laughed, talked stuff and played. I realized that I had not played for a long time. I play chess daily online. But I do not play chess for fun — it is serious with me! When was the last time you played something just for fun? If it takes you more than a moment to remember, it has been too long. This year let the child in you come out and play.

Well, I hope these suggestions help you to have a great 2018. May all of you have a marvelous New Year.

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