Left Justified: New Year’s resolutions

A new year implies a chance for change—a beginning, a time not only for reflection of what’s past but anticipation for the future.

So, do you think Rockford will change? Do you think President George W. Bush will become a peace activist instead of a warmonger? Do you think I’ll stop eating too much at the Thai Hut? Fat chance—as fat a chance as I am getting fat!

If you want to change, tell all of your friends, seek professional help, and if they have any medication, take it. That’s how I stopped smoking: doing those three things as well as using hypnotism, the patch and deep breathing exercises. Change is hard, and the older the body, the more difficult.

Our souls are trapped inside of these wretched bodies that are susceptible to chemical addictions, negligent parents, and stray, haphazard violence that can turn us from loving, humane creatures into paranoid, hateful barbarians.

If we humans could truly harness our brainpower, bad decisions would perish along with war, crime and other harmful behaviors. Or at least vice could be more manageable.

By trying to change our habits and those actions that do us harm, some of us have to change our hearts first. And that takes time or a heart-stopping experience. That’s why it took this country four long years to figure that the war in Iraq was a big mistake. But if the experiences of Vietnam had not been there, our government would still be in the hands of the neo-cons.

I offer some reflections and wishes for the new year:

All you folks living east of Alpine: come downtown at least once, even just to walk the river path. The history of our town is here, all the way back to native Indian mounds. Enjoy and understand our past.

Winnebago County must save more land for future wildlife. How about keeping some of those farms with their big, beautiful barns? At least try to design prettier parking lots!

I wish our big daily newspaper could report stories instead of fluff. The biggest story to hit downtown—New American Theater closing—gets a bunch of hand wringing and platitudes from passersby (“That was a nice place” and “Gee, too bad”). Where’s the beef? Why did NAT close? “Ran outa money” is not news!

We gotta do something about our Congressman. Don Manzullo is an embarrassment. He has supported this war as if he were going to lead it, instead of being a desk jockey. Some of his political supporters have even profited from the war (i.e., check out who printed all those “Get Out The Vote” posters for Iraq. It wasn’t the Iraqis). Congressman Manzullo also has the worst environmental voting record of any of our previous representatives. He’s an embarrassment even to the local corporate masters!

Instead of tossing out old papers and mementos, how about donating them to a historical society? Midway Village is looking for anything related to industry, Memorial Hall wants military items, Burpee could use your natural history, and there’s Tinker Cottage, the Ethnic Heritage Museum, and, at Northern Illinois University: the regional archives center (NIU can organize, catalogue and put online your stack of documents—available for future scholars). Give them money if you can’t give them stuff.

Get to know your local county board members. They are the ones who will either save the environment or pave it over.

And finally, support your favorite local nonprofit organizations. They make Rockford livable, humane, and sometimes beautiful. Have yourself a very happy New Year!

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Dec. 27 2006-Jan. 2, 2007, issue

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