In the dawn of the new year a person might ask, "What is in this for me?". Many people have set resolutions, and perhaps by now broken them only to make the same promise next year to eat better, exercise more, spend time with loved ones, or give up a bad habit. It is not unusual to look at the fresh start and ponder what gains can be had by keeping those promises but it is even more common to expect a reward for not breaking them. What is it that motivates us to become better people, one resolution at a time? It is such a simple answer that a simple explanation will not suffice. Social Acceptance. It is in the core of humanity that drives people to improve not only for the betterment of one's self but to share that positive energy with the ones we love to make a better world. There is no surprise when a tiny establishment buried deep within downtown can draw dozens of strangers into a room to drink, laugh, and be merry together as though they were old friends. The Dive Bar has been a necessary factor in tying communities together. The "watering hole" has been around since man discovered fermented fruits and grains make for good drinking and has drawn people from miles to taste a rare mixture or to sit where a celebrity sat in a cult fascination.
In our current times the bar industry ranges from flashy to trashy, and often on the same strip. People are drawn to the night life in order to feel connected to other people and create a sense of unity in the city but technology is threatening to break that unity. All over people are turning to their phones instead of the person sitting next to them. Where have those days gone when you knew the faces at your favorite bar? For some people those days are long gone due to tuning out and creating a privacy bubble that prevents making new and important life connections. For others those days seem like they are fading as more people bounce from bar to bar each night taking their crowds of friends with them. There is hope yet, though. The simple beer tap has not lost its magic touch. There is one universal resolution to make, one that each person counts silently in addition to the one they have announced to the public. That resolution is to live another year. Many people make those vows while sitting by the tap. They return to show their fellow patrons any progress they have made and offer each other encouragement in dark times. But that silent vow has its own special meaning. It does not mean only to survive the coming months but refers to the quality of life. To live is to experience things and share those experiences with society. The good experiences are praised and repeated while the bad ones are exiled from memory. The shared experiences of people are becoming so diluted now with social distance in nearly every public venue, but the Dive Bar lives on. In that small crowd is your community. Your fellow voter, a concerned parent from the PTA, and a human being also in need of a connection. Alcohol has been vilified for its effects on one's inhibitions. Respectable people have donned lamp shades on their heads while wallflowers become social butterflies. In this era, though, it is crucial to take advantage of those lowered inhibitions just long enough to turn to the person sitting next to you and say, "Hello". Without each other we cannot hope to create that better world we all want to see. If only for just one night a week we must come out of our worlds and connect with the eyes of another and truly know the people around us. This is not a ploy to spread romance but an urging to remember that a society only works when it operates as one. With all of the cultures mixing together it is becoming easier each decade to become so accepting that we all forget to embrace the differences in public. Be not a stranger to the people in your bar but instead try to reconnect. The only way to make those resolutions come true is to work together as one and it can start with a small gathering at a local watering hole.