The new year offers new hope and opportunities

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our View

Ralph Waldo Emerson is attributed with the thought: “Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year.”
As the year 2016 winds down, we reflect on the events that highlight the year, but we also look ahead to a new year and what awaits us. As we approach the new year we’re all looking for something to celebrate and to give us hope.
The stories associated with the holiday speak to broad themes that we would do well to remember. Christmas tells the story of the birth of the Son of God to a poor, powerless couple who struggled to find shelter and acceptance in an unfamiliar place. The notion of Christ’s birth under such conditions and in a state of such vulnerability was the first lesson his life provided about our need to provide for all of those in our lives, especially those in need and least able to manage on their own.
The new year, which is right around the corner, also holds lessons. Though our calendar system doesn’t carry particular significance beyond what we give to it, there’s still a very real sense that Jan. 1 of each year is a new beginning, a clean break from the year before. These periodic mental resets are important. They reacquaint us with the notion of a fresh start and cause us to think on things we want to accomplish or change to make our lives and communities better.
It’s hard to believe that the year has come and is almost gone. It seems like only yesterday that we were still in the hot days of summer and were surviving through the dog days of August. We’ve passed through a relatively orderly fall and as we come to December, it’s always a good opportunity to take stock of the past year.
Our state has been hit hard this past year with weather-related tragedies, such as the wildfire in Gatlinburg from which the community is still rebounding, tornadoes and floods. We live in a world loaded with risks.
In July of this year, two persons in Carter County were killed when a storm hit the area, bringing down power lines and trees.
It is becoming more difficult to predict the frequency of the occurrence of these events and the impact that they bring on our lives.
But we can be thankful for the help in time of trouble. It could have been a lot worse for the people of Gatlinburg had it not been for the many volunteers, who stepped in to help financially, and in every other way.
It was a brutal year as far as politics was concerned. The presidential campaign was long and ugly. In the end, Donald Trump emerged as the newly-elected president in the race between him and Hillary Clinton. He will take office in January. Only time will tell if Americans made the right choice and if his policies will really make America great again.
Despite the shortcomings of our nation, we still have a lot to be grateful for — freedom and the many benefits that come with it. While attacks from terrorists (both foreign and domestic) have proven that the United States is not completely invulnerable, we do live very secure lives compared to many of our brothers and sisters around the world. Wars are not being fought on our soil, and our neighbors are friendly.
The American dream is still alive and well. This is a country where you can do what you want, build a comfortable life and even rise to impressive heights if you are positive, honest and work hard. You do not have to be confined to a certain place or profession if you do not want to be.
Compared to so many other people on this planet, Americans live comfortable, secure and even luxurious lives. Most of us live in our own homes, drive our own cars, have plenty to eat and enjoy amenities ranging from smartphones to laptops to grocery stores to movie theaters.
As you celebrate the new year, take a moment to reflect on your blessings and resolve in the new year to be a better citizen and find a reason to be involved and give back to your community.

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