This new year should be a good one. It seems preordained.

It’s the symmetry of 2020. Or maybe it’s that perfect eyesight is 20/20. May our decisions in the new year be made with perfect clarity. Here’s to hoping that comes to pass, however unlikely.

I know it doesn’t seem to be so, but we are currently living in the best of times. As a student of history, I spend a lot of my time looking back. I know this to be true.

It isn’t an accident. It’s been done very much on purpose. In 2020, we should continue to strive for a better future. It doesn’t take huge, Earth-shattering shifts. We can do it with simple, tiny steps in our own backyards.

For a time, I lived in northern Idaho. One of the enduring qualities of folks in that region is they would never deign to tell someone what to do. It is the polar opposite of a Southerner, who feels compelled tell you exactly how you should live your life.

Out there, a man only offers advice in the third person. Your barn could be engulfed in flames, and your neighbor would draw a deep breath before saying, “What a fella could do is grab that hose and put it out.”

The same was true with directions. I asked a guy at the gas station how to get somewhere, and he started by saying, “What a guy could do …”

In that vein, here’s what a guy or gal could do to make 2020 a great year:

A guy could stop spending so much time on social media. Facebook, Twitter, etc. are not making the world a better place. These platforms are damaging the fabric of our society.

Grown men and women explode in anger at their friends’ political posts. They grow jealous of seeing pictures of their friends and family in exotic locales, or gathering without them.

If a guy spent less time on social media, he wouldn’t regret it.

A gal could spend more time learning about her community, meeting people with similar interests and offering new perspectives.

There are organizations at the hearts of all of our communities. The Buckhead Heritage Society, Heritage Sandy Springs and the Vinings Historic Preservation Society all present programs and events aimed at building a better future by knowing the past.

Each has a website listing its events. For example, on Jan. 8, John Beach will present a program for Buckhead Heritage on the historic trees and resources in and around Buckhead. Visit for more information.

These groups also represent the best value in Atlanta. A gal should consider joining them to keep abreast of the happenings in her own backyard and to build friendships with her neighbors.

Rather than glaring at each other over spotlight-hogging national headlines, a gal could bond with these same people through a shared passion of their community.

And I’ll tell you what else a guy could do — stop watching cable news.

Brains get scrambled every time one of those programs is on. They seem to thrive on people shouting over each other without perspective or experience, just a message to deliver.

When the mission is the message, they aren’t interested in listening, just shouting.

A guy could go back to reading the local paper, and there is no more local paper than this one. You can even read it online if that’s your bag.

People spend far too much energy and effort on huge, unwieldy national issues.

But all politics is local. A guy should be mindful and pay attention to what is happening on his street, at his church, in his schools and at the city council and county commission meetings.

Those are far more impactful than what is happening nationally. And yet a guy spends all day talking about a tweet from someone he never met.

Here’s to being a bit more aware, a bit more thoughtful and bit better connected — really connected — in 2020.

It’s what this guy is going to do.

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Buckhead resident Thornton Kennedy is the president of PR South and a former news editor of this paper. He can be reached at


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