As we bid 2021 farewell, it’s not easy to generate much fondness for the year gone by. Perhaps the best thing about 2021 at this moment is that is finally ending.

Yet to be fair, it hasn’t been all bad. The amazing and highly effective COVID-19 vaccine gave protection and peace of mind to those who have obtained it. Unfortunately, too many people have not. And that is the primary reason the pandemic lives on to bring sickness and grief to those it infects.

Normalcy will elude us as long as there are those who shirk their responsibility.

America needs the help of its citizens.

Recovery for our communities is something to which we all must be committed. Good citizenship is essential, now more than ever.

It has become customary in this space as a new year dawns to offer a litany of thoughts for the coming year with the emphasis on promoting an increased level of citizenship.

A version of this editorial first appeared in 2014 and we’ve adapted it to apply again this year. The message is timeless, although it carries increased urgency in these times.

As we greet 2022, we offer these suggestions for making yourself a better citizen.

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As the calendar turns, resolutions for self-improvement are top-of-mind. Lose weight. Exercise. Eat healthy. Stop smoking.

Think positive. Laugh more. Worry less. Etc., Mostly, they’re personal goals, and good ones at that.

We’d like to add another for your consideration: Become a better citizen.

How does one do that? It’s easier than you think. You probably do it all the time, yet don’t think of it in terms of being a good citizen. But there may be more you can do that requires only that you engage in your community in a greater variety of ways, each of which contributes to enhanced quality of civic life for all.

We offer the following resolutions from which to choose. Try a few.

• Donate blood.

• Get the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s free and easy accessible. If you’re already vaccinated, lovingly urge those around you who resist it to reconsider, for their sake and for those around them.

• Drive safely, with an emphasis on construction zones.

• Attend a festival (as long as they are not suspended because of COVID-19 concerns).

They contribute greatly to a community’s sense of place, pride and self-worth. And we’re going to need a lot of that to recover from the pandemic’s strain on communities.

• Volunteer. Plenty of good causes need your help.

• Make a contribution to a local charity, and not just during the holidays.

• Read your newspaper. Better yet, subscribe to your newspaper. Yes, we know this sounds self-serving, but let us explain. One key way to be more aware, involved and informed is to know what’s going on in your community and to apply this knowledge to your civic life. The best way to get that kind of knowledge is by reading a newspaper, which is widely believed to be the main source of vital information about government, business and public and private institutions that make up the foundation of every community.

• Use your local parks. They are beautiful places.

• Support community-based businesses. They need you. You need them. Now more than ever. The pandemic has been hard on them.

• Take advantage of cultural opportunities, which have become more abundant again. Visit a museum. Attend a theatrical performance, a concert or the symphony. Venture onto a college campus for something other than a sporting event.

• Be a good neighbor. Mend fences. Build bridges. And, no, we don’t mean the structural kind.

• Embrace the community’s diversity. Scrutinize biases or prejudices you may hold toward others concerning politics, religion, race, age, gender or sexual orientation.

• Thank a veteran. When the opportunity arises, attend an event that salutes those who have served in the armed forces.

• Tell public safety officials and first responders how much you appreciate the jobs they do and the risks they take to make our communities safe and secure.

• Express gratitude to all those front-line workers — doctors, nurses, health professionals of all kinds — who continue to give so much of themselves to help their communities through these difficult times.

• Be kind to the animals. Adopt a pet from the shelter. Be a responsible pet owner.

• Respect the environment. Don’t litter.

Take care of community resources. Recycle. Educate yourself about ways to help make your community more sustainable. 

• Speak well of your community. Proud of where you live? Tell people about it.

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Happy New Year! May 2022 be the best year yet for you, your family and the community in which you live.
© 2022 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.