The promise of a new year

We’ve marched into a new year today, boldly ready to accept the challenges that lie ahead and, hopefully, grasp the opportunities that just might be within our reach.

Armed with the knowledge that both are likely to occur, we hope we are ready for 2017 and all its promise.

Today, just hours into our new year, it is our hope that people are feeling a little less apprehensive and a lot more hopeful, resolving not to let fear of the unknown run our lives.

The negative won’t go away just because we have awakened to a new year — Isis is still a serious problem, spreading fear and hatred across the globe; people here and elsewhere are continuing to recover from devastating storms like Matthew, and fires that have left death and destruction; men and women with guns in their possession and hate in their hearts will still try to wreak havoc; and politicians will still make promises they can’t keep — but it is up to us to ensure that more positive exists than negative, that evil will not triumph over good.

Perhaps now, with the revelry subsiding, we will eagerly anticipate better things to come, reflect upon the last few years and set our minds — and our hearts — on the things that must be done as we enter 2017.

We’re not talking about resolutions, for they are usually destined to be broken, and often are. We’re talking about commitments we need to make, individually and collectively, as we begin this new year, commitments that will make life better for us now and for those who will come after us.

We believe our new year should start with commitments that begin with being initiators of peace — in our homes, our communities, our states and our great nation, if not the world — and end with a return to the moral convictions many of us still remember being taught at our grandmother’s knee, commitments that deal with loving one another and being kind to our fellow man, whether we agree with their lifestyles, their politics or their religion.

In the year behind us, there has been tumultuous times, devasating losses, hatred and selfish injustice. Resolutions have been difficult to find, middle ground has seemed unobtainable and yet we believe there are still far more good things going on in our world than bad, more decent individuals than self-centered extremists bent on stirring hatred rather than working for peace.

And because of that we have great hope for our future. Today, we must cling to that hope and build upon its foundation. Today, we must begin to repair the obvious tears in our country. To do that we must first look inward and then reach out to others.

So today, the beginning of a new and hopefully better year, let us make these commitments:

• To strive for peace;

• To not raise our hands in anger toward another individual;

• To relearn and then teach our children about working together, respecting other’s opinions and refraining from judging those who aren’t cut from the same cloth as we are;

• To relearn and then teach our children the importance of earning what we are given rather than expecting a handout;

• To relearn and then teach our children about earning trust and giving it;

• To relearn what morals are supposed to be about and then teach those morals to our children, using ourselves as the example by which we, and they, should live;

• To relearn the value of family and then teach it to our children, again by example, as we spend quality time with them;

• To relearn what government is supposed to be about and then hold those we’ve elected accountable to those standards; and,

• To learn, or in some cases realize, that wealth and power aren’t the most important things in life — family, faith and compassionate hearts are.

• To learn the power of real friendship, the kind that gives without expecting anything in return and strengthens another simply because they want what is best for another individual.
• To learn the love of community, sharing what we have with others so that we all grow stronger because we care for one another.
For 2017 to be a greater, kinder year, we must all make the commitment to do our part and more. This year, let’s try to love and respect one another rather than tear each other down, realizing that the words to an old song offer real truth — united we stand, but divided we will fall.