Reflection of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, there are many things going through my mind.

wintertree

 

The 2016 Merriam-Webster Word of the Year, something they’ve been doing since 2003 to capture year-over-year growth of the most looked up words, is “surreal”. Hard to argue that. For all of our innovation and advancements, in so many ways it seems we are going backwards and not forwards as a people.

As of this writing, in Chicago, there were over 690 shot and killed, and over 3,550 wounded by gun violence. In total there have been over 770 homicides (80 people killed by  means other than a gun and 690 shot). On any given day, there are approximately 20,000 homeless children in the Chicago Public School system. Merry Christmas.

We had a presidential election that has divided our nation probably the most that we have seen divided in over 150 years- since the civil war. “A house divided against itself cannot stand” said Abraham Lincoln on June 15, 1856 at the Old State Capital in Springfield. These words would be good to listen to right now. We need to be a united people. It’s a matter of national security.

Rumors, or facts, depending which slant of news you favor, say the Russians played a hand in computer hacking that may have influenced our national election. It makes Watergate seem like a parlor game. You can’t make this stuff up. It is the making of a Jason Bourne movie and would be fascinating theater if it wasn’t as scary as hell. “Surreal” indeed.

This week a man plowed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany killing several and injuring several more marking just another in a list of shameless, unconscionable, senseless global events conducted by deranged and soulless individuals.

The heartbreaking stories keep coming from Aleppo, and where has the international community been? Where have we been?

Winter solstice is Dec. 21st. Deriving from Latin “sol”, or “sun” and “sistere”, or “to stand still”, it is the shortest day (and likewise the longest night) of the year. And one of my favorite days. Why? Because everyday after winter solstice gets longer. Everyday gets a little lighter, until winter turns to spring. It illustrates positive trending to me. It symbolizes brighter days ahead. And hopefulness.

Despite recent comments on the prospects for hope, I without a doubt believe that our brightest days are ahead. But they won’t just happen while we sit idly by wringing our hands over the multitude or seemingly insurmountable problems that exist at the local, national and global levels. Everyone can do something. Everyone MUST do something. Whatever it is.

I held my annual holiday lunch at the Billy Goat Restaurant for children on the west-side of Chicago last Sunday. Santa paid a visit. Visiting with the children, Nicki and I could see the sparkle in their eyes. The wonder of Christmas, being asked if Santa parked his reindeer on the roof because the parking lot was full of cars from Bears and Blackhawks fans. Asking a youngster what he wanted to be when he grew up (a teacher) and giving encouraging words to always remember to enjoy reading and learning.

In the spirit of the season lend a hand to someone in need. Volunteer a few hours to help a child read. Make a donation to a local charity that does something that you see as important- there are so many worthy causes right here in our community. Support someone to run for office that you believe is doing it for the right reasons- our democracy depends on it. It can all seem overwhelming, but if we all do a little, together it will have impact. Do we have any other choice?

Happy holidays and may 2017 be a year that is a little brighter because we all did a little something to make it that way.

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