As 2012 winds down, many will reflect on this crazy year and wonder — what was all the fighting for? We started the year slow and easy with not too much to report on. As election season came into view, however, the American public at large was dealt more than its fair share of politics, slammed with mailers, phone calls and e-mails. We lost the sense of community as our neighbors and colleagues found justifiable reasons to end relationships over differences of political opinions.
If politics weren’t bad enough, gas prices nearly broke the bank this summer, we were bombarded with constant good news/bad news over Wall Street stock prices, and unemployment rates were in what seemed to be in a constant state of flux, though that all seemed to simmer down after election. It was nerve wrecking, to say the least.
On a positive note, President Barack Obama shut down the war in Iraq while slowly easing out of Afghanistan. The economy showed signs of life while companies repaid the U.S. government bailout monies. Locally, life was mostly mundane, though we were consistently moving up and out the 2008 recession. Home prices and sales went up and the unemployment rate slowly declined. While some businesses closed, many flourished and new businesses joined the ranks of neighboring success stories. We didn’t come out fully unscathed, though. In Oxnard, protests formed against police brutality and residents expressed their angst about corruption at City Hall after the results of the district attorney’s investigation were released. Throughout the county, five cities are now looking for new city managers and two police chiefs resigned. On the state level, however, we secured billions more for our schools with the passage of Prop. 30. Students fears about higher college tuition and fees subsided. With the intense political atmosphere, California voters coming together for the welfare of our children may be considered miraculous.
The American public at large also faced some devastating tragedies. If the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings didn’t arouse the attention of gun control and gun right advocates, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings not only got everyone’s attention, but it shook the entire nation to its core. The Obama Administration geared up for a national conversation on gun control and mental health policy, while the National Rifle Association stood its ground with its “Only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun” motto and called for armed guards at every school. Guns sold at a rapid pace after the murder of 20 children and six adults while second amendment debates intensified. Just like during election season, Americans are once again divided over the right thing to do.
In midst of all of the madness, Superstorm Sandy rocked the east coast, leaving millions without electricity, and many without food, shelter and/or water, while killing 253 people. It was a freakish environmental disaster that pushed the somewhat skeptical notion of climate change into full blown reality. If now isn’t a good time to talk about climate change, then we as a nation may never be ready.
With so much going on in the world, in our country, it is clear that we have to take charge, and compromise should be a top priority. With that, what can we do as a community, as a society to make our world a little safer and a little kinder place to be? A few New Year’s resolutions may help.
1. Stop being so stubborn. We need to stop assuming ideas different than ours are bad. Take a deep breath, listen to the argument, be clear and concise on the best way to compromise.
2. Find neutral ground. Is there a way we can have it all? Gun control, safe schools, control of climate change, reduce our carbon footprint, create jobs, make more money? We all want those things now how do we get there?
3. Love thy neighbor. Make it a point this year to end the isolation and come together as a community. We need each other, whether we want to admit it or not.
4. Get creative. For instance, if we can’t stop driving our cars to reduce our carbon footprint, let’s aim for fuel efficiency, from buying hybrids to something as simple as not gunning it at stoplights.
5. Stop talking and get to doing. We all aim for high goals, but many never actually take off. This year, let’s just do and stop the talk.
With 2012 in the rearview and 2013 ahead with full of potential, let’s move forward and find how we can better our lives by coming together rather than stifling one another. It can be a great year, so let’s make it that way. F