By KEVIN HENDERSON
New Year’s resolutions came again this year—less weight, less stress, less Internet. But resolutions are easy to break. They are not born from tradition. They seek to break from it: from old and unproductive habits that specialize in avoiding adversity. If you suddenly wish to reform yourself consider, as motivation, an individual’s effort to reform something much greater than himself. Raif Badawi stands to endure months of physical punishment for what we call freedom of speech.
Since his floggings began I have swum, once a week, 50 laps of butterfly—one for every lash. It is an introspective journey that connects me to another person, if only for a moment. If the conviction of your resolution has waned, consider doing what you set out to do, not for yourself, but for Raif. If your resolution included walking, running, swimming, or biking more—do it for Raif. Your heart will thank you and your empathy for your fellow humans shall grow without bound.
Kevin Henderson lives in Los Alamos and works at the lab, though his wife is quick to note he is primarily a philosopher and a mandolin player who enjoys swimming with dolphins and aspires to make changes to everyone’s landscaping.