Wag more. Bark less

Mantra is great way to start out New Year

December 22, 2010|By BILL KOHLER |
  • Bill Kohler
Bill Kohler

"Wag more.

Bark less."

— Bumper sticker, 2010

Sitting at a red light in Hagerstown this week, it hit me: What a great idea for a bumper sticker.

Then another thought: What a great way to lead off this Christmas column swirling around in my gray matter the past couple of weeks.

Then one more thought:
What a great mantra for leaving 2010 in the dust as the holidays draw near and we head into 2011.

Then the lady in the red car behind me blew her horn because the light was green. Ahhh, even the holiday colors were telling me something.

Think about it: Wag more, bark less. OMG, how cool is that? Even if you are not a dog owner or dog lover, it's a great thought.

Just think if we would have had more wagging and less barking in 2010. This past year would have been more enjoyable and less stressful for many.

Some things are just unavoidable, such as dying, taxes, the death of rock 'n' roll, mediocre TV programming and bad luck. Those things happen and there isn't anything you can do about it. We pray for guidance, and try to use our common sense and prior experience to help us avoid and accept as many of the bad five as possible.

But what if we had more wagging and less barking?

I guarantee if the world's worst offenders thought about right and wrong before they acted, more families would be together, more children would be celebrating Christmas and our prisons would need a heck of a lot less of our tax dollars to run. Amen, brother.

This also holds true for the world's average folks, like me and you.

My family, my reporters and a few co-workers (Sherry) will be the first to tell you that I need to get on board and do way more wagging. I think we all can relate to my battle of the bully.

So here's my pledge. Feel free to raise your right hand and repeat after me:

"I, (state your name), pledge to be a nicer human in 2011.

"I pledge to think before I speak to everyone, especially my mother and people closest to me.

"I swear I will listen first before speaking and not fly off the handle over silly little things that really don't mean (insert your own descriptive word here.)

"I promise to be nicer to the dog. After all, he's one of the inspirations for these words. I've grown from being a selfish hater with 59 Reasons Why I Shouldn't Get a Dog to a man who cleans up dog poop in his yard a couple times a week and talks to him in a kind, gentle way. (I can't believe I just typed that.)

"I vow to continue my anger-management therapy by working out three times a week at the gym.

"I vow to read more, watch less TV and get more sleep in 2011. Lack of sleep makes people cranky. And nobody loves cranky people. Seriously.

"I pledge to not even blink an eye when my wife asks me to hold up a 15-pound painting in 14 different spots around the house.

"I pledge to be a better husband and father, son and brother, friend and uncle.

"I pledge to be more patient with strangers, to keep looking people in the eye, and provide a sympathetic ear or a helping hand when needed.

"I pledge to do more for the greater good. I hope to be more like those folks who do things without asking for praise, who give without anyone knowing, who donate food to the hungry, coats to the cold, money to the needy and swing hammers for the homeless.

"I vow to be less argumentative. I vow not to engage in any Obama-Bush debates that could turn into more barking and less wagging."

This year's election-season nonsense of negative ads, personal attacks and character assassinations really turned my stomach. And I'm a newspaper man who's been in the biz for 25 years!

And finally:

"I pledge to be more fun, and more open to new ideas and opportunities."

Don't worry, I'll still stick to my guns on the basics and essentials, but that kind of thinking is what makes this country great and life worth living.

That kind of game plan will keep my tail wagging in 2011. How about you?

Happy holidays to all.

Bill Kohler is Tri-State Editor of The Herald-Mail. His columns appear regularly. Reach him at 800-626-6397, ext. 7281, or

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