Can we imbue our daily lives with a little more goodness

“We all have committed offenses; together we confess these human sins:

“The sins of arrogance, bigotry; and cynicism; of deceit and egotism, flattery and greed, injustice and jealousy.”

Those words in “Gates of Repentance: The New Union Prayerbook for the Days of Awe, “and similar phrases in other High Holy Day machzors, remind us that regardless of our good intentions, we stray.

While few of us commit the kind of acts that get us in trouble with the law, our lives are pockmarked with misdeeds.

“We have sinned against life by forgetting the poor in our own midst….We have withheld our love from those who depend on us….We have distorted the truth for our own advantage….We have indulged in despair and trafficked with cynics….We have sinned against ourselves and have not risen to fulfill the best that is in us.”

We want to be good — but we get distracted.

Just think of how we conduct ourselves in transit. Speeding, cutting off a driver, changing lanes without signaling, honking unnecessarily, driving through a stop sign because nobody is looking.

Users of public transportation are hardly immune. Remember the time you were tired and failed to relinquish your seat to somebody who was more in need. Or how about the time when you spoke too loudly on your cell phone, inadvertently sharing your work or personal problems with bystanders.

In our families and our workplaces, think of the times we failed to listen, driven by the beliefs that we — and we alone — were right. Think of the times we have failed to be there for our children — or our parents.

And in the Jewish community, think of the harsh criticisms we have leveled against those whose religious practices, views on Israel or political sympathies differ from ours. Discussions are healthy — diatribes and putdowns are not.

Yom Kippur offers us the opportunity to begin again, each year. It’s not just a question of turning away from sin — but of turning toward goodness.

Before the Day of Atonement begins Sunday night, we can take the time to deal with those things that are gnawing at our conscience. The letter we owe. The invitation we meant to extend but never got around to delivering. The apology we couldn’t bring ourselves to make. The words of praise we have failed to deliver.

And before the sound of the shofar the following day, can we find a way to make “business as usual” a little holier, imbuing our daily lives with a little more goodness? Can we rise to fulfill the best that is in us?