THE LONG VIEW: It’s never too late to be a better person

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So, our long climb up Holiday Mountain is almost completed. Before you can say, “Please pass the Alka-Seltzer,” the revelry of Holidays 2016 will be over and the New Year will begin. Along the way, we will wish our loved ones and strangers alike a “Happy New Year.” But what do we really want the next 12 months to be?

So, our long climb up Holiday Mountain is almost completed. Before you can say, “Please pass the Alka-Seltzer,” the revelry of Holidays 2016 will be over and the New Year will begin. Along the way, we will wish our loved ones and strangers alike a “Happy New Year.” But what do we really want the next 12 months to be?

Plenty of folks are casting worried looks to the future. The world continues its collection of hotspots, with carnage and cruelty in overstocked supply for those trapped and suffering in Syria, South Sudan, and the West Bank, terror strikes and a rising xenophobia across Europe, and continuing instability in the Baltics, North Korea, Russia, the South China Sea, and other locales.

As near as I can figure, neither you nor I will be able to resolve these ongoing conflicts around the globe. But I do believe you and I have the power to change things for the better closer to home.

Did you read about black blues musician Daryl Davis? He’s the subject of a documentary calledAccidental Courtesy, which outlines his decades-long habit of getting to know members of the Ku Klux Klan. He not only befriends them, Davis claims to have “converted” 200 Klansmen from their bigoted outlooks, just by associating with them.

“I try to bring out the humanity in people,” he told the press following the film’s premiere at the SXSW Festival.

That’s what I call improving the world.

Would you like the chance to spruce up your own little corner of life? Me too; let’s be resolved to make the most of these next 12 months. Let’s each of us be the person we really want in our communities. And let’s do so by consciously choosing to side with our better angels and walk gently with those on our path.

This will not be easy; it will take a lot of work. At the very least, I will need to stop questioning the parentage of drivers who momentarily offend me. But the harder part of our collective job — making life more pleasant for everyone — will be overcoming our fears and preconceived notions so as to recognize the humanity in those around us.

Maybe we can all get on board this bandwagon for 2017. Every day, until it becomes a habit, I’m working to be more patient. I’m reminding myself to talk less, listen more, be good-natured even with folks having a bad day, and to really look for human beings behind the faces I gaze into.

Here’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote to help you get started: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you love life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”

I don’t know how many New Years I have left and don’t want to squander this one. I want to bring out the humanity in people, starting with myself. Hope you can join me.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at grimespat19@gmail.com

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