Rash words seem to plague our dialog. Other than taking a vow of silence, resistance seems futile. Besides that, a vow of silence is way too easy to break. Go figure.
It seems to me that promises we make fall into three broad categories. The solemn vow, the random promise, and the pinky promise. It would stand to reason that those promises are fulfilled in the order which they are listed. I'm not so sure that is the case. A poorly thought out promise can push one across the fine line between inspiration and affliction.
Personally, I want to avoid afflictions.
A solemn vow can be the ultimate catalyst that motivates an individual to a life of epic greatness. A vow like that is generally taken before a roomful of witnesses and often invokes Divine accountability. I would suggest Mother Theresa as a glowing example of this. Some may find such a vow arduous and would be advised against making such a commitment without deep soul searching.
Then there is the random promise. It is often vocalized without much consideration. Once upon a time a person's word was as good as a contract. Nowadays, that may still be the case, but the contract isn't worth anything either. This is a particularly sad change in our culture.
When we come to the pinky promise, we think of children and silliness. But, search as I might, I can recall no instances of someone breaking a pinky promise. Maybe I'm missing something here.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The mighty New Year's resolution. It can be made with all the solemnity of marital vows, but is rarely fulfilled. It seems to be the low IQ version of a life-vow. Or maybe we are just getting in touch with our inner village idiot when we make such promises. A New Year resolution is generally not attended with any accountability, because it is commonly made to oneself. That annual tradition of speaking before one thinks is generally worn out before February, just for the record.
Still, we are drawn to such self-promises, partly because the new year gives us a clean break from the past. It doesn't really, but it seems that way. I think another reason we inflict ourselves with resolutions is most people recognize their shortcomings and have a desire to improve themselves. That is honorable. Too bad it rarely works.
So, is the problem in the promises we make, or in our commitment to a given lifestyle change? Or, maybe it is in the accountability. Maybe the accountability factor is why pinky promises are more successful than New Year's resolutions. Hmmm.
I don't have great answers here, but time is running out to make New Year's resolutions for 2015. So, if you decide to make a resolution, be sure to pinky promise with someone. Or, I suppose you could think it through carefully. Whichever method you choose, I hope you are able to accomplish it.