Treating everyone with dignity and respect in 2018

Treating everyone with dignity and respect in 2018
January 11
01:00 2018

I can remember people many years ago making New Year’s resolutions. These were things we wanted to either start doing or possibly do better.

Yes, I too, began making these New Year’s resolutions. Quite honestly, I didn’t start to make the resolutions until New Year’s Eve. And during some years, I didn’t make them until New Year’s Day.

Now, was I serious in my intentions? Well, I probably was for a few days. In my opinion, making New Year’s resolutions is a tradition with more people making them than keeping them. Our friends make them, so we make them, too.

There are other New Year’s traditions that we have been following for years. One of the traditions is what we eat on New Year’s Day.

My memory, jaded as it is, recalls having blackeyed peas and cabbage on this day. This was supposedly the main ingredients of the “good luck” meal. My mom added fried chicken, rice and corn bread to this meal. The overall meal was good because my mom could cook.

After New Year’s Day, I don’t remember that combination of food items until the next New Year’s Day. In a strange sort of way, if this represented “good luck” food, why didn’t we have it more often?

Another New Year’s Day tradition that I found more humorous than anything else was who showed up at your house on that day. It was good luck for the entire year if a man was the first person to come to your house on New Year’s Day. I was so young I don’t remember that happening in my neighborhood.

However, maybe in the East Winston section of Winston-Salem, we had a man or a group of men who performed that task. Our homes ought to be open to kind and good people regardless of gender. In my opinion, this is a tradition that I hope has gone away.

I want to get better at treating all people with dignity and respect. We are living in times where tempers are bad, and attitudes are negative. No longer do we give people the benefit of the doubt.

I want to exhibit a higher level of kindness and empathy. If I can leave a person with a good word, then both of our days become brighter. I want to smile more. Yes, these are some difficult days, however a simple smile can go a long way in helping someone else feel better.

Many of us have been truly blessed, so as best as we can let’s share our blessings with other people. It’s the small things that matter. Paying for a child’s candy bar or letting someone go ahead of us in the grocery line are good starts. If we put others first, this feeling will sink deep into our spirits and stay with us throughout the year. I always say that people don’t want to know how much you know until they know how much you care.

This is the first month of what promises to be a very exciting year. Treating each other with dignity and respect will be the foundation we need to make this a blessed year. After all, our lives are inextricably tied together and we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

James B. Ewers  Jr. Ed.D. is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator.  He can be reached at

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