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  • Writer's pictureDouglas W. Judson

How will your resolution tip the scales in 2018?

This article originally appeared in the Fort Frances Times. |

Resolution time strikes us at our most complacent and indisposed. It sneaks up in that cozy stretch between Christmas and New Year’s Eves when we forage for leftovers and, in our holiday coma, have lost all awareness of what day of the week it is. On December 28, most of us are more seized by Netflix than carpe diems.

The effect of this timing can be grim. Of guilt or glut, many of us will belatedly pledge to cut back in 2018 – to ‘trim fat’ of either the fiscal or feasting variety for a more disciplined new year. (I’ve been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt …a size larger than last year.)

But there are other ways to tip the scales in 2018, and in our holiday navel-gazing could take a wider view when we forge resolutions this time around.

2017 made headlines of a number of issues in our society: the #MeToo campaign, which gave voice to victims of sexual assault and harassment; the rise of hate movements and white supremacy, as seen in the events that unfolded in Charlottesville; and the opioid drug crisis which continues to test our public health muster. In the digital, connected age, these seemingly ‘global’ issues find local resonance and replication, and sometimes a local response.

The Rainy River District has its share of internal challenges too. A shortage in judicial resources at our court is undermining local access to justice; the west end of the district needs more equitable access to services like child care if it is to attract parents to fill new jobs; and homelessness is on the rise at a time when we have no permanent shelters. Others question whether we are clinging to the past – is the fate of the Fort Frances mill at odds with our ability to move forward on tourism, a thriving small business sector, or to promote a strong regional brand?

Against this backdrop, reconciliation with Indigenous people struggles to find its feet in the Northwest, while our municipalities are dumbfounded about whether to name roadways for the colonization of their territory. And just last week, a decision by the Trump administration exposed border areas of Minnesota to industrial activities which impact our shared waterways.

These are all open questions, debates, and opportunities to be championed, and we each have a stake in these issues. But armchair quarterbacking and online ‘slacktivism’ seems to have opened our willingness to share opinions, while shutting down any impetus to act. It seems as though “liking” and “sharing” social media posts (often of dubious origin and limited fact-checking) has supplanted volunteerism and good, old-fashioned organizing and advocacy.

We have to be the change we want to see in our world. The good news is that we also have many opportunities in our midst to do just that – especially here in the Rainy River District. Our communities have been built on committed volunteer talents and vision. That should be the basis of our 2018 resolutions. Consider:

  • Is your community missing something? Start it – it will catch on. There are numerous community spaces and networks your initiative can piggyback off of. Just look at Borderland Pride – over the past year it has been generating significant interest among LGBTQ residents and their Allies.

  • Is there a story or perspective missing on an issue that’s important to you? Write about it. Find a blog, news site, or local paper to print your article, or send an open letter or petition to the people who need to hear you out.

  • Are you unhappy with your government? Run for office, or help someone you know to jump into the fray. 2018 is also an election year, and our region is due for a generational shift in its leadership. Municipalities and school boards will be elected in October, and some area First Nations will also hold elections this year. The province heads to the polls in June, and so far, only the Ontario PCs have fielded a candidate.

We can all change the world in our spare time. How will you use yours in 2018?

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