Baby boomers have lived through a lot of new years. And therefore, new year’s resolutions! BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs regularly writes columns for The Denver Post, and wrote one for the end-of-the-year about such new year’s resolutions. This version is adapted for BoomerCafé. It’s not about his resolutions, it’s about yours.
This will not be an egotistical essay that trumpets, “Here are my New Year’s resolutions.” You’re a baby boomer, so you’ve already seen decades of declarations about New Year’s resolutions … yours, mine, someone else’s, most of them probably unfulfilled. So instead, this will be a commentary that proclaims, “Here are what your New Year’s resolutions ought to be.” Sorry, I can’t stop myself.
Let’s start with the internet. And the garbage it spreads like a virus. If you see something political online that makes sense to you and you want to enlighten the rest of us, first press your personal ‘Pause’ button. Then check it out. See if it’s legitimate, meaning true. If it’s not, show some integrity and don’t further disseminate the distortion. Remember, if something smells fishy, there’s probably some fetid fish inside.
Now, driving. I’d guess that most of us have lots of pet peeves about driving (usually someone else’s, of course). You probably wouldn’t take the time to read through my own long list of peeves, so here’s just one: get off my tail. If memory serves, you were taught way-back-when that when you’re behind me, you should leave a full car length for every 10 miles-per-hour we’re traveling. For the math-challenged, that means six car lengths at 60 mph. If you can’t respect that easy equation and I have to hit my brakes, you could end up in my trunk. If you really want to get in my trunk, can’t you just ask politely?
And speaking of the road, if you’re in law enforcement, here’s a polite plea: when you stop lawbreakers by the side of the road, would you please pull them as far over as possible please so that you don’t cause a second problem please while you’re preventing the first one … please? While we’re on the subject, how about those blindingly bright strobe lights? If they make it harder for oncoming cars to see the road, they’re hardly making it safer too.
Oh yes, one more New Year’s resolution before we leave the street: Drivers, please be smart. If a bicyclist is stupid enough to be blocking your path, would it kill you to slow down for a few seconds? It might kill the bicyclist if you don’t. And bicyclists, a resolution for you too: don’t be stupid.
Now, politics. May your New Years resolution not be to vote for Trump, or Hillary, or anyone else; you’ll do that anyway. No, may it simply be that once all votes are cast in 2016, you go to the trouble of taking down whatever yard signs you went to the trouble of putting up.
We also need some New Years resolutions in my own business of journalism. Too many to fit in this space. But here is a handful.
First of all, “credit” is a good thing, as in, “Mother Teresa deserves credit for improving people’s lives.” But when a terrorist group says it carried out an attack, we shouldn’t say, “ISIS claimed credit for (fill in the blank).” Anyone who went to journalism school should know this; we say something more like, “They claimed responsibility.” I’ve seen the unprofessional version used everywhere from the Associated Press to the New York Times, and have heard it on network television newscasts too.
Another New Year’s resolution I wish we’d see, from journalists, prosecutors, police, and others: in cases where criminal suspects are killed, we’re perfectly willing to declare them demonstrably (rather than “allegedly”) guilty of crimes we know they committed (for example, shooters in places like Newtown and San Bernardino). So why, when they’re caught alive but their guilt seems equally incontestable, can’t we do the same (think James Holmes at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter in Colorado Springs)? It’s wishful thinking, I know why we can’t, but still …
Finally in the new year, can we try to remember that great athletes, despite their unbelievable skills on the court or the rink or the field, aren’t “heroes.” Nor are actors who pretend to be brave. Heroes are police officers, soldiers, fire fighters, relief workers in war zones, and the like. They put their lives on the line to protect ours. When you refer to heroes, they’re the ones you should have in mind.
Check out Greg’s book about his life in network television news.