Published: January 3, 2024

By Jim Lichtman
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Everybody’s got ’em, and everyone is sincere until they break ’em.

Sunday’s New York Times had a fascinating story about how to write an opinion piece with one difference. They taught kids, seven to seventeen, how to write an opinion and then asked them to submit their opinions in 100 words or less. A few rules: “Choose a topic you care about and have a lot of thoughts on, write your opinion as clearly as you can—and make sure that it’s actually an opinion, convince your reader that you’re right, and make it interesting.”

Reading them gave me a new spin on New Year’s resolutions.

Colleen Griffin, 11, Oak Park, Illinois, writes, “I do believe in second chances, but I don’t believe in third and fourth chances. If someone does something bad to you once, that’s OK, you get a second chance. But if they do it again, and maybe it’s not the bad, maybe they get a third chance. But fourth chance – that’s done. I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.”

Resolve to be more thoughtful about who you believe and trust.

Beatrix Nachtigal, 10, from Brooklyn, New York: “You know what I can’t stand sometimes? People are like, ‘I love the environment! Save the environment!’ And then they’re just shouting about it, but they don’t actually do something.”

Be a example. Resolve to perform one or more acts that help the environment.

Hayden, 8, from Pelham, New York: “I think it’s so wrong that anyone is mistreated because of their religion. We had an Israeli flag raised in our town after October 7 [an unprovoked attack by Hamas against Israel], and someone stole it in three days. With my mom’s help, I raised over $800 to buy a new flag, but then people were nervous to put it up again. I think when a tragedy happens, we should all come together to help and not take sides.”

Resolve to raise awareness of a cause—national or local—in your community.

Navya Puligari, 9, Sterling, Virginia, writes, “There should be more vegan options at school. Currently, there are none, but vegans like me need to eat lunch, too! Obviously, they could pack their lunch, but what if their parents are too busy in the morning? They would be starving! Lunchrooms need to be more inclusive about the food they offer.”

Resolve to petition your school for more alternatives including vegan. (How about preparing your own lunch, Navya?)

Zach Neugroschl, 11, from San Diego, makes a extraordinary point about racism. “Imagine if everyone in the whole world was all the same person. There would be 8 billion Kevins. If Kevin was great at math but horrible at engineering, we would have no good engineers in the world. That means no cars, technology, etc. The world would be much better off having a bunch of different people living in it. No matter what they look like. That’s why we should end racism.”

Resolve to be more inclusive in your school and community by getting to know people who are different from yourself.


  1. Beatrix Nachtigal, “they’re just shouting about it, but they don’t actually do something.” Exactly Beatrix.

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