These daily encounters, when they are angry or alien, diminish our lives. When they are pleasant, we feel buoyed. Yet when we sit at home and make resolutions, we think about what we can accomplish in private spaces：home, work. Too many have given up the belief that they control the shared, the public world.
As individuals we can change the contour of a day, the mood of a moment, the way people feel. The demolition and reconstruction of public life is the result of personal decisions made every day：the decision to give up a seat on the bus；the decision to be patient or pleasant against all odds；the decision to let that jerk take a left－hand turn from a right－hand lane without rolling down the window and calling him a jerk.
It's the resolution to be a civil, social creature. This may be a peak period for the battle against the spread of a waistline and creeping cholesterol. But it is also within our will power to fight the spread of urban rudeness and creeping hostility. Civility doesn't stop nuclear holocaust and doesn't put a roof over the head of the homeless. But it makes a difference in the shape of a community, as surely as lifting weights can make a difference in the shape of a human torso.