New Year’s resolutions rarely resolve much. I haven’t met anyone who had long-term and sustainable weight loss, nor anyone who became a “gym rat” because of a New Year’s resolution. Yet, we enter the New Year with hope and optimism, inspiring one more promise to resolve perceived defects in our lives.
We rely on hope to carry us through times where we feel out of control and cannot predict with any certainty the outcome. But we rarely hope without action. Take, for example, the newly diagnosed cancer patient. Rarely does one approach cancer with only hope. Instead, we use emerging miracles of modern medicine to put our hope into action. Likewise, while we hope no child goes without a Christmas present, we don’t rest on hope; we put our hope into action by buying and donating toys for distribution to kids in need.
For years, we have been hoping the toxic political environment that has found its way into family gatherings will dissolve over time. Many who have served or currently serve in office remark on the lack of civility amongst elected leaders. The fault, of course, rests with all of us. We have allowed legitimate criticism to give way to mean-spirited attacks applauded by extremists and sustained by errant media. And the observing public gobbles it up as quickly as we do gossip from the tabloids. But our Republic is worthy of more than tabloid politics. When Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, informs Montanans that too many in the state Legislature behave in a manner none of our moms would tolerate, our ears should perk up. Parents step in when kids can’t self-regulate, and their behavior gets out of control. They set the standard and force re-sets when behavior is intolerable. It is the least favorite obligation of parents, but we do it because we have the wisdom to see a bleak future for an out-of-control kid.
Our future as a country is likewise grim if we continue to allow out-of-control rancor to dominate our public discourse. Continued reliance on hope without action enables the cancer of political hostility to metastasize. Just as we must discipline our children when they misbehave, we must also cease to tolerate political candidates whose only qualifications for the job are the ability to bully and shame others and a willingness to forsake principle to the will of the highest bidder or power broker. We must see those political candidates for who they are: cowards who lack work ethic. Just as idle parents suffer the consequence of adult children unable to cope in a society with behavioral expectations, we must embark on the painful obligation of setting a standard for our elected officials and adhere to it.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former mayor of Kalispell and host of Montana Values Podcast.
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