The beginning of a new year is an artificial construct — there’s nothing significant about Jan. 1 from a geographical or astronomical point of view, nothing in the physical world to distinguish the day from any other winter day.

But we humans imbue New Year’s Day with great meaning. For us, it marks a new beginning, fresh and alert. It calls on us to commit to better habits that could lead to prosperity and progress. It presents a fresh, blank calendar, unmarked by the previous year’s regrets, with resolve to approach the world with wisdom and kindness. New Year’s Day, as English essayist Charles Lamb put it, is every man’s birthday.

The year 2018 was marred for many by political divisiveness, by anger, acrimony and insults. But perhaps it was less so than in 2017, when we began to wake to the fact that the tribal partisanship, the accusations and lies, were doing great harm to our nation. More are trying now to reconcile the bitter divisions, recognizing that we’re stronger when we work together.

It’s not easy. It calls for genuine good will, honesty, integrity — and humility. Only people who are convinced of the value of national unity will be able to face the task.

... As we did on Jan. 1, 2018, we ask our readers to join us in this resolve:

Take a deep breath, shake off last year’s divisiveness and carry on in the best American tradition. Listen to as many different viewpoints as you can, especially those of your neighbors, but most important, try to listen more than you talk. Try to understand. Try to mute the crudest of the political chatter and get outside to take in some of our area’s remarkable natural beauty. Read. Give back, with your dollars and time, especially to children. Commit to local causes that interest you.

...

There will be plenty of frustrations this year, political and practical. But there will also be plenty of opportunities to practice patience and gratitude for the good things we have.

The above excerpts are from an editorial published Jan. 1 in the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal. Its views are its own.

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