2016 is over, but what can I do in 2017 that could make me a better citizen, a better individual? I’ve compiled a list of my top resolutions for 2017.

Resolution 1- Engage in a Dialogue with People of Opposite Views

We’ve seen in 2016 that there has been a lot of polarization when it comes to an opinion on something- pro-Modi vs anti-Modi, pro-Trump vs anti-Trump, pro-Kejriwal vs anti-Kejriwal,pro-demonetization vs anti-demonetization, etc.

People have started to divide themselves according to their views which are concentrated at either one extreme or the other. One CAN have a view which is in the middle, one can have a neutral view, one can also have a view which is pro at one point of time and anti at another point of time. When we try to fit people into categories, discussion and dialogue becomes very difficult. When someone expresses a view that is different from ours, we react aggressively, which isn’t a healthy sign. If someone as much as expresses something that hints to a view different than theirs, the internet trolls spring into action and literally abuse people through social media. Polarization reduces chances of a dialogue, which polarizes people even further.

In 2017, I will become more dialogue-oriented. We need to have a dialogue with people who have different or opposite views than ours. And no, i don’t mean discussing whether Salman is better than Shahrukh! This will lead to two things- our thoughts will be filtered and will become sharp and second, we will understand why the other person thinks and believes the way they do. People have their own reasons to place their faith in certain things and it isn’t necessary that our thought process is always the right one.

Resolution 2- Refrain from blindly following the Media

What we see on the news, read in the newspapers, magazines, on Facebook and on Whatsapp isn’t always necessarily true. Media is driven by corporate and political interests. It is difficult to find an unbiased point of view through popular and conventional media like television and newspapers. Strong examples of this are Kanhaiya Kumar and JNU controversy, the Rohith Vemula case, the Delhi and Bihar elections, the unrest in Kashmir and the recent demonetization of 500 and 1000 Rupee notes. There were a lot of doctored videos and news that caught the limelight this year. Let’s try to verify all the news we consume before we actually believe it. New age digital newsrooms like The Quint, The Wire, Arré, Newslaundry, Quartz, Youth ki Awaaz, The Caravan provide alternate news and views to mainstream media.

Resolution 3- Pick a Social cause and Commit to It

Pick a social cause this year, it can be any cause which we believe in or which is close to our heart- be it gender equality, child education, gender equality, dalit equality, women’ empowerment, environmental conservation, animal welfare, In the beginning, you might donate money, but there are multiple ways to contribute to and engage with a cause- you can volunteer your time, you can run a marathon, you can organize a fundraiser, you can even work for them. In 2017, we need to become more responsible and empathetic towards people who don’t have the privileges we have.

Resolution 4- Travel More, Stay with Locals, Learn Their Ways

Whenever you get a chance, travel. Travel away from your area, your city, your state and if you can, travel away from your country. It is the best teacher. If you like travelling like a tourist, living in luxury at the best hotels, enjoying all the amenities and eating the best food, that’s okay, too. However, I recommend that you try to interact with the locals of the place. I have personally realized that every time I interact with the locals of any place I travel to, my thoughts and my mindset become humbler, I realize that my mindset is not the only one. When I cycled 2000 kms through Odisha and Jharkhand, the locals showered me with kindness and it just confirmed my belief in the fact that your travel is never really fulfilled if you don’t have at least one conversation with the locals. Spending time with the locals is always an enabling experience. I’d recommend staying at Airbnb’s, homestays to add a human angle to your travel. In January, Ankit and I took a road trip in Uttarakhand and stayed at Balbirji’s homestay in Sankri. If we’d stayed at a lodge or hotel, we’d never learned about his organic farming practice which he’s been at for 20 years and we would definitely miss the delectable local food he fed us. Such experiences give travelling a cultural aspect apart from the normal touristy things we do.

Resolution 5- Be Mindful of the Resources We Consume

We, the consumers, are at the center of the consumeristic universe. Things appear from somewhere, cater to our needs and then we discard them somewhere. In other words, we are ignorant to the process of production and disposal of the material we consume. We are seldom mindful of the waste we generate on a day-to-day basis. In 2017, we need to be a little more conscious about our consuming habits. I personally followed a life of minimalism in 2016- I cut down my shopping (haven’t bought clothes for a year ), I cut down excessive consumption, I use public transport as often as possible, I don’t own a car ( only a bicycle ) and I mostly cook at home. Before we buy anything, we really need to ask ourselves, “Do I actually need this?”, “Can I do without it?”. These questions will help you differentiate between what you NEED and what you WANT. I have found that downsizing my possessions has decluttered my life immensely. The lesser we consume, the smaller is our burden on this planet.

Resolution 6- Reducing My Individual Carbon Footprint on the Planet

In 2016, 195 nations of the world came together and signed the Paris Climate Agreement. It is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement.

Yes, the representatives of the nations did sign this agreement, but if just signing on a piece of paper ( or 50 papers ) changed anything, the world would be a completely different place to live in. We, the citizens of these countries have to take individual steps to ensure that our country contributes lesser and lesser towards global warming and climate change as the days go by. A very easy way to do that is to watch what you eat and drink. It has been proven time and again that non vegetarian food has much larger ecological footprint on the planet. Meat and dairy production contributes to global warming by producing methane. The amount of water, land and the effort required to produce the meat that you get in supermarkets and shops is a lot more than the resources and effort required to cultivate fruits and vegetables. It is recommended to have a vegetarian diet full of fruits and vegetables if you want to reduce your carbon footprint on the planet. Also, stopping the use of bottled water packaged in plastic bottles may seem like a small change, but with the oceanic plastic garbage on rise, it is the least we can do.

So, these are my top resolutions for 2017, what are yours? I’d love to hear from you, comment here, or tweet me @karmatraveler with your resolutions. Let’s be a better version of ourselves this year 🙂

I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, fulfilling and responsible 2017 🙂 🙂 🙂

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