The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, ‘Ring out, wild bells’ (part of In Memoriam), 1850.
I’ve never really been one for making New Year’s resolutions; I don’t think that creating a list of things to change from 1 January works, especially not after a late night, good eating and the inevitable fizz (bookmarked by your drink of choice). I forget whose Facebook status read that New Year’s resolutions are merely a to do list for the first week of January, but it makes perfect sense. Such reevaluation of one’s life needs to be done at a slower pace, based on strategies and clear, detailed goals.
I came back to London on 7 January, after three glorious weeks at home, and started back at work the following day. This post should have been published by then, but during my holidays, I spent a very small amount time on any form of social media, and was perfectly happy with that state of affairs. Now it’s time to get back to everyday life; now, then, seems like the time to give thought to my resolutions, to choose them carefully and implement them gradually, all the time remembering my word of the year, recreation.
But to properly make a New Year’s Resolution, would it help to know where they came from? As a ‘ye olde’ geek, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never given it much thought. Fortunately, this is definitely the time of year to be looking into this kind of thing. At the beginning of this month, Jean-Luc Deuffic (tweeting at @medievalpecia, blogging at blog.pecia.fr/) tweeted a most helpful article on the subject, Lessons from the Romans on getting the New Year off to a good start, by Annelisa Stephan at the Getty Museum. Janus is the Roman god of beginnings, and, rather wonderfully, of doors and archways; his name is the root of the word ‘January’. I particularly like the fact that it is not only the start of the year and of January that is sacred to him, but also the beginning of every month. So if you’re beating yourself up about already having failed in a New Year’s resolution, try again at the start of February. Or you could try reflection rather than resolution.My blog and my life having been considerably ‘ME ME ME’ for a while (note: not always a bad thing), I’ve been thinking about making some more selfless resolutions for this year, about using my powers for good. For example, it’s no secret that my beloved profession – librarianship – is very seriously under attack by the current government’s attitude to public services; see Speak up or Libraries and Voices for the Library for further information on what you can do to save libraries. My first New Year’s resolution is to make plans for National Libraries Day, which takes place on Saturday 9 February – three weeks to go!
What else would I change? What else do I want to see happen?1) As a starting point, we need to change the government’s vocabulary, particularly as regards their sustained attack on the so-called “benefit scroungers”. They make it possible for rags such as the Daily Mail to publish vile headlines such as that to the left. Ben Riley-Smith wrote an excellent, yet shocking, article on the effects of the government’s targeting of people on benefits in the Guardian in August last year.
2) I mentioned above that fighting for libraries is my personal priority, especially as we can expect the cuts to hit much harder this year. Saving libraries is part of the greater struggle to save education and to bridge the digital divide; libraries give people access to the tools and resources required to educate themselves at any time of life. In the UK, higher education is being made increasingly unaffordable for all except the richest families. The result of the government’s closure of libraries and increasing of the cost of education is a poorly-educated, ill-informed, financially poorer, and unhealthy population; the logical conclusion is that the government believes that it will stay in power longer if the majority of voters are too poorly-educated, and poor, to be able to fight against the ongoing attacks on the nation’s basic social and economic infrastructures.
For other suggestions about what you could do this year to make this country a better place, I recommend reading “Five things I want to see happen in 2013” on Infoism.
What better way to use resolutions – at any time of the year – than through committing yourself to save and improve the crucial resources and services that give everybody a chance to improve their lives?