Every year, Americans sing an old song to welcome the new year.
Funny how we all know the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne,” Robert Burns’ poem set to an ancient song, without especially understanding the words.
Following a year of political chaos and, finally, a devastating fire, we at the Messenger Mountain News are recommending a universal New Year’s declaration that we take our everyday petty annoyances and replace them with that “cup o’ kindness.” It’s a much-needed discipline that takes daily practice.
Marsha Maus, one of thousands who lost their homes, observed about her neighborhood of Seminole Springs that “people who hated each other for years, are now hugging each other and saying, ‘I love you.’”
Does it take a disaster for us to be kind to each other? Think of the generosity that was exponentially generated after the Woolsey fire and continues as people seek to rebuild their lives.
Like the singed pine tree with its “True Message of the Season,” someone decorates this tree, every year, just because…. You can write your own story of the tree. This year, for us, it was an unknown someone caring for a wounded veteran who survived a devastating trauma with a message of kindness for all to see and take to heart.
The title of Burns’ poem means “old times’ sake” or “old long ago” in the Scots dialect the poet loved. The words, sung by people all over the world every New Year’s Eve for more than 200 years, evoke nostalgia and camaraderie, but also celebrate human kindness and goodwill, two things that are present in abundance in Topanga, and shine brightest in times of adversity.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
…We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”