At Your Service: Dec. 30, 2008

The year 2008 was a remarkable one. Historical in very literal ways and noteworthy in others. At its end, we can gain a new perspective with 20/20 hindsight.
The big news is of course the election to the American presidency of a remarkable man who changed the way that elections are managed forever and is also an African American. Many things can be said of the election process from which Barack Obama emerged he victor, but perhaps the most significant is that it gave this country’s youth lots of new models to use as the inspiration for their dreams.
Also on the national front, the ups and downs of the economy haunted every life. While most American’s struggled in one way or another, various voices insisted that there was no real problem. Then, quite suddenly, when the bottom fell out of the “mortgage crisis”, those financial institutions and automobile manufacturers who had been the most mismanaged begged for and received “bailouts” to the tune of over $700 billion taxpayer dollars.
On the international front, the leaders of hundreds of nations came together in an effort to find solutions to the environmental issues challenging the planet. They did so without the support of our country. But, we did participate in a gathering in Beijing for the Olympics and celebrated as Micheal Phelps wowed the water world.
Closer to home, we have seen a few businesses close and some wonderful new ones open on our Main Streets. Many families have welcomed new members through birth and marriage; while others said goodbye to loved ones. Our community lost many whose contributions extended beyond their family; Dr. Raymond Stone and Barbara Johnson are two I will personally miss. Other firsts brought us together and gave some reason to pull away from the crowd.
Yes, 2008 was a year of challenge for the world and most individuals. It is best to leave it lie and look ahead.
In early 2009, a new president will take the lead and begin to address issues and problems that will take years to resolve. Neither the economy, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere nor environmental issues will be tackled easily so there is room for us all to contribute ideas and energy. We can anticipate a few years in which the best of us will be called forward as can only happen when rising to a challenge.
For a good many of us, keeping food on the table seems challenging enough. Here our creativity will yield results if we are willing to look to the new. An examination of my own life makes it clear that in order to have the future I desire, I must try some new ways of doing things. All the things that have brought recent change into my life also offer the perfect opportunities for success and prosperity – I just need to see my life from that perspective.
Changing perspective is a great way to look into the new year. I am not one who makes year end “resolutions”, but they are one way of saying I will see myself differently in the future: thinner, smoke-free, healthier, happier. Whatever it is you dream for yourself, changing perspectives is one way of bringing it to life. We cannot change the year ending, but we can celebrate that we made it through and are here to tell the tale. We can start something new and create something different.
If you doubt that dreams come true, I take you back 40 years to the Washington Monument mall. Dr. Martin Luther King told a racially-divided America that ”I have a dream…” His was a perspective changing speech. We can make revolutionary changes to our lives and world when we dare to look into the future, change our perspective and dream.