Friday, December 31, 1999

Perfect time to help those close to home




BY CLIFF RADEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Before the clock strikes 12 tonight, make a New Year's resolution to help your family. And the world.

        Keeping that resolution throughout the year 2000 will promote peace around the globe and help put an end to violence, want and hatred.

        No, I have not been toasting the New Year early. I just believe that social change, like charity, begins at home.

        And, this is the perfect time to make those changes.

        As the 1900s end and the 2000s begin, the air buzzes with excitement. Ambitious plans are in store. Hopeful predictions abound. Everyone thinks something extraordinarily significant is going to happen in the new millennium. Well, it can. But it must start at home.

        Most rational people hope and pray for world peace in the coming year and for an end to the social ills bedeviling mankind: hunger, poverty, ignorance, violence and racial, ethnic and religious hatred. This year, those lofty goals have a familiar, hometown ring to them. The New Year's Eve celebration in Newport involves ringing in 2000 with a giant bell dedicated to world peace.

        No doubt the jumbo-sized, 66,000- pound World Peace Bell will ring true. But it's going to take more than a good, loud “bong!” to bring an end to war.

Angel wings
        Achieving worldwide goals can be fraught with frustrating sour notes. Immense problems and their solutions often cause people to throw up their hands, mutter “forgetaboutit” and turn to more doable New Year's resolutions. Lose five pounds. Floss daily. Exercise more. Take out the garbage before the nagging starts. Stop that #$%$*# cussing.

        The big hopes and dreams can be realized. They just need to be broken down into more manageable parts. Take them from a global concern to the place where everything begins, the foundation of life, the family.

        Resolve to help the people who matter to you, the people you call family.

        Volunteerism is wonderful. Anyone with the gumption and the heart to help ease the suffering of perfect strangers deserves applause and admiration. Volunteers do heavenly work.

        Angel wings can also be earned by coming to the aid of people closer to home, closer to your heart, people in your family. Maybe a tornado did not level their home. Maybe a fire did not consume their clothes. They might not be down on their luck. But, they still might be in need. Check on them. See if their gutters are clean or if they need someone to lean on.

        The act of helping could consist of something as simple as calling a family member on the phone or dropping by just to sit at their kitchen table and talk. You can warm a heart by warming a chair.

Teach your children
        School violence, fueled by hatred, intolerance and a lack of communication, colored 1999 blood red. Resolve to change that in 2000. Start at home.

        Sit with your children. Talk with them — often — about what kind of behavior is expected from them at home, at school, on the street, in the mall. If you don't know, it's time you did. A parent's duty is to come up with expectations and goals, guidelines for living in peace and harmony.

        These kids, your children, are our next generation. But, they are your responsibility. The schools are not responsible for their upbringing. Neither is the government. They're your kids. They are family.

        Resolve to examine in your heart and out loud how your family sees people who have a different skin color, practice a different faith, come from a different part of town or place on the globe. Preach tolerance and understanding. Pass them on as proud legacies the next generation can carry into the year 2000, the next century and the new millennium.

        Now, I know these goals won't be met in one day or one year. But they are well within reach. If everyone pledges to begin by making these changes within their own family, the solution can start with a new year's resolution.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.

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