Writer's note: This article originally appeared through my work with Helium (www.helium.com) and I felt it was time to share it with my audience here.
People taking pictures, lists, even fully paid mortgages and publicly shredding the documents in what is quickly becoming an annual tradition.
They call it "Good Riddance Day."
THe Good Riddance Day movement is, for all intents and purposes, a type of reverse New Year's resolution. Instead of developing new, improved selves and habits, we are supposed to let go of past mistakes and bad habits. This year one man's list included giving up his addiction to shoplifting.
It sparked me into thinking about things we as a society need to give up in order to move onward into the future.
We need to give up racism. This is probably one of the biggest wastes of human energy in the United States. From wasted energy committing racism to the wasted energy seeing racists behind every tree, car, and building corner. Both extremes must go. They are useless. No ... they are worse ... they corrupt and distract us. They are not useless, they are malicious. The sooner we say good riddance to them, the better.
We need to give up consumerism. This does not mean to stop shopping for food, clothing, etc. What this means is for us to think about what we are buying. Are we buying something because we need it (like food), because we really wnt it (like a computer), or simply because it is the latest thing (like an 8GB iPod when we already own a 4GB iPod that we only have 2GB of music on)? If we settle for a $12 pair of store-brand pants instead of $50 Levi pants, we free up considerable money that we could save in the bank, invest in mutual funds, or afford other things that we really want, like taking our significant other on dates more frequently (yes, mental and emotional goods are important too).
We need to give up credit use, both personally and nationally. Right now we owe so much as a nation it would take an entire year's income from everyone to pay it off. This is not just an economic issue, but an issue of national security. Some of our biggest creditors are China and Saudi Arabia, two countries who have proven to have less than our best interests at heart.
We need to give up or put off pork-barrel projects until, if and when, we can actually afford them. Our government is one of the most wasteful structures and organizations known to modern man. It needs to be put on an economic diet, for the health and safety of us all.
We need to give up selfishness. Think of those who are less fortunate than you. When you see on of the red meters in places like downtown Denver, Seattle, or whatever town or city you are in that let you donate to the homeless programs of your community, put a dollar or two of change into it. If you see someone who is homeless and they ask you for help getting lunch, take them to McDonald's or Taco Bell and buy them lunch if you are worried about them spending the money on drugs or alcohol. And for God's sake, turn off the TV when your kid asks for help with their homework. Stop being so selfish with your resources like time and money. If you give just a little, you help improve our entire society, and it really doesn't hurt you. In fact, you just might end up feeling good about yourself for a day or two.
We need to give up road rage and recklessness. Is it really worth risking killing yourself or someone else, just to get to work five minutes earlier or to "get back" at someone you think cut you off on the freeway? There is a man sitting in the state pen right now in Colorado who thought that it was. He is serving time for murder for causing a road rage related accident on a freeway in Aurora, Colorado that killed two people.
The list could go on and on. Think about all the things wrong with your community, your state, and our nation. Make a list if you have to. Then shred or burn it. Let all those things go. Then join with your fellow citizens and lets make the necessary changes in our society to make those things relics of the past.
Let's work toward the day when our children ask questions like "what was war" or "what do they mean by pollution?" Together we can make it happen. We just have to let go of the past and say good riddance to it.