Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Political commentators and celebrities are bidding good riddance to 2016 largely because of the ideological divide and politics that separates the nation.  It's a singular way to gauge a year, as if politics is the measure of all things. Coming off a holiday season celebrating with family is a reminder that there are more important things in life.

Since it's the season of resolutions, how about we consider a few that would make for a better commonwealth? For starters, let's work on trying to understand one another better. Not convincing others they're wrong. Nor persuading them to our brand of politics, but really listening and working to understand. Perhaps the election results would have been less a shock if people got to know their neighbor's and coworker's concerns.

This leads to the next resolution; participate in more conversations with those you disagree with. Not arguments. Not rants. Conversations. This is where mature individuals dialogue and discuss ideas that they may not agree with. And in case you were wondering, verbal daggers coupled with condescension and belittling aren't found in conversations. Note to texters: put down your your smartphone and look across the table at the person you're supposed to be dialoguing with.

We'd do well to realize that politics isn't everything. Jacques Ellul warned about making everything political. He called this the “political illusion”—the belief that most of our problems are political and therefore require political solutions. So here's a suggestion for politicians as they embark on the 2017 General Assembly; realize your limits. If your only tool is a hammer, everything in view looks like a nail.

The problems of addiction, employment, education, and poverty have dimensions outside the political realm and therefore solutions outside the political realm. For the ruling class to understand this takes wisdom. For them to act on this reality takes restraint.

Here's a resolution for the established media; pursue truth in a news story where all sides are fairly represented. It's called objective reporting and its found in the news section. Opinions on the other hand are slanted and found on the op-ed page. Here's another suggestion; take inventory as to why you're losing followers and influence. Hint: It's not the new digital media and fake news.

And finally, one for Kentuckian's who understand that each person has a responsibility to contribute goodwill to the commonwealth; think the best of others. If you're tempted to criticize, walk a mile in their shoes before doing so. If you're prone to making snap judgments on another who doesn't meet your standards, work on empathy (see resolution #1 above). Instead of contributing to divisiveness and division, become a reconciler. After all, our motto is United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

If Kentucky needs more peace, love and mercy, let it start with you. Lasting change for the betterment of our society will not happen by waiting on a few influential people to do big things. It will not come from a legislative act or executive order. Instead, change will happen by myriads of people regularly doing small things with lots of love.  By God's grace, 2017 can be a much better year if we practice these things.