As we count down the final hours of 2017, I can’t help feeling I will be glad to put this year behind us.
It’s been a year in which I quit asking “how could things get worse?” because we kept getting evidence of how things could get worse thrown in our face practically every day.
We’ve seen some disturbing developments during the past 12 months and we have sunk to some new lows in this country, but I’m not quite ready to give in yet.
I’m not ready to give up because I still believe in people.
Not the people who are supposed to be leading and running the country.
We have assembled the most abominable horde of useless, self-serving scoundrels imaginable in Washington.
Some of these are the most pathetic excuses for human beings I have witnessed in a lifetime of observation.
If we turn things around and start making life better for everyone in this country, it will be in spite of the deplorable demons in the pit of Washington, not because of them.
The blatant greed and complete lack of integrity on the part of those who are supposed to be working for the rest of us have reached shocking new levels.
To say government has betrayed the public trust would be a gross understatement.
Politicians can’t save us, and I’ve seen little evidence that they intend to try.
They’re much too busy lining their own pockets and those of their friends, while doing everything in their power to sabotage the efforts of others.
If I have any confidence in our so-called leaders, it is the confidence that they will pick our pockets and swindle us at every opportunity.
I do, however, still believe in the power of ordinary people.
The kind of people we might work with, or have as neighbors. The kind of people we see out in our communities volunteering to make things just a little bit better for those around them.
There’s a lot of apathy in this country, and while we weren’t looking, a lot of bad people have done things that have, and will continue to hurt us.
And yet, I still don’t believe the average person wants to live in a world of division and hate.
I believe most people just want to live a reasonably comfortable life.
They want to live in a place where hard work can bring home a living wage so they can take care of themselves and their families, and maybe have enough left over to relax once in awhile and enjoy spending time with their friends.
I believe most people aren’t asking for anything more than a level playing field where everyone has a fair chance to get a piece of the pie.
The people I know want to feel safe in their homes, and they want to know the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the food they eat are safe.
That sounds obvious to us, but there are places in the world where people can’t take those things for granted. There are also places in this country where unscrupulous individuals have, and will continue to exploit our resources for their own gain without a thought to the consequences for anyone else.
The role of government is to protect citizens from people like that, not to protect the shysters from having to take responsibility for their actions.
I think most of the people I meet care about their neighbors and those who are less fortunate.
We see evidence of this every day, when we hear about random acts of kindness, or see people organizing benefits to help someone who is sick, injured, or has been through some other type of disaster.
These volunteers aren’t asking “What’s in it for me?” they are asking “How can we help the other guy?”
As long as that kind of thinking holds true, we have a chance.
The world can be an overwhelming place sometimes, and there may be days when it seems like there are more problems than answers.
There’s good news, though. We don’t have to try to fix it all at once.
There’s a lot of truth in the old line, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
It’s OK to start small.
If we just look for one simple thing we can do each day to make someone else’s day better, we can be a powerful force for change.
Even something as simple as making a choice to share one kind word, rather than posting a negative comment on social media, can touch people in ways we might never see.
It is up to us to make the year ahead better than the one that is ending.
None of us can change the past, but all of us can do something to change the future.
We are about to begin a whole new set of 365 shiny new days in which we can do it, so why not start now?