Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 - A Year With a Purpose

What a year 2012 was. Like most years, a lot happened. Greece imploded financially as a country while many others struggled.Encyclopedia Britannica ended their print edition of the encyclopedia after 244 years! Hurricane Sandy killed 209 people and devastated parts of the east coast, in particular New Jersey. A number of public figures passed away this year; Dick Clark, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Andy Griffith, Neil Armstrong, Mike Wallace, Andy Williams, Larry “J.R.” Hagman, Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., Etta James, and several more. Locally, several people passed away too, including Ellen Tyner who was cherished by so many people in this area.

We had a multiple senseless tragedies throughout the United States. In July, a young man walked into a movie theater during a premiere of “Batman, the Dark Knight Rises” and started shooting, killing 12 people and injuring dozens more. In early August a gentleman went into a Temple in Wisconsin and opened fire; he killed 5 men, 1 woman, and injured 3 more people including a police officer. Then he killed himself. In September a man walked into the office he was fired from and shot his boss, 3 fellow employees, a UPS driver, and then killed himself. On December 11th, a 22 year old man went into an Oregon mall and fired 60+ shots killing a 15 year old girl and then killed himself. It’s a miracle that in a crowded mall more people were not killed or injured.

However, the tragedy that will leave a scar our nation for many years to come is the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. As a lot of Americans did, I watched the “moments of silence” on the networks a week after the tragedy and to see the pictures of the children and teachers of that school was almost unbearable to watch. I think we all realized that a tragedy like that could have been any school, in any small town, in any state in America. I am not going to make this particular blog political but I do know that many people are contemplating our “right to bear arms”. I certainly think that our rights should not be taken away. I have numerous guns myself and I probably have not shot ONE of them in 4 or 5 years. I also know a lot of people that own guns, do a lot of hunting, and are normal responsible citizens that would not do anything to harm another person without just cause. But one thing resonates in my mind that I’ve heard many times over the years; “if we implement any gun control, the bad guys will still get the guns they want”. I could not agree with that more. However, I also recognize that these senseless tragedies in which people are killing other people, even children, are often not people that are considered “bad guys”. You don’t hear about someone from a gang or organized crime walking into an elementary school, mall or movie theater and randomly start shooting adults and children. Now, I am sure that has happened somewhere, but it doesn’t seem to be an epidemic problem. I don’t think that our “right to bear arms” should ever be taken away, but I do think that if someone displays a psychotic nature or is being treated for a mental illness, they should not be allowed to own a gun that can easily kill 20 children and 6 adults in a matter of a couple of minutes. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that person should be allowed to own a gun at all. I know the slogan, "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Well, I agree...especially crazy people, and I think that is something we should at least consider.

We watched another election year pass by while candidates spent about $6 BILLION to be elected nationwide. While America struggles to overcome a lethargic economy, Congress is getting a raise for a job well done. It seems to me that more than most other jobs, wouldn’t it be reasonable that a portion of what the leaders of our great nation make be based on performance? I think for the first time in a long time, Americans will consider what an elected official has done while in office before automatically re-electing them.

Although 2012 saw a lot of tragedies, stress, and bad things, it also saw a lot of good things or at least “interesting” things. NASA landed a rover on mars, the WORLD went “Gangnam Style”, Honey Boo Boo fever took over, the last of our combat troops were able to come home from Iraq, “Call Me Maybe” went viral with an endless number of groups singing it, James Cameron went deeper into the ocean than anyone had ever been, IPHONE 5 arrived and the Space Shuttle Endeavor was retired. FINALLY, it was proven that the Mayans did not intend for the world to end, or either they were wrong. Either way, we’re still here. If you read the book of Revelations, I assure you, we’ll know when the end is here. Gabby Giffords made an extraordinary comeback. We saw Queen Elizabeth II celebrate 60 years as the queen of England. The US had an extremely successful run at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England with Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympic athlete in history; 22 medals in all with 18 being gold. Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner becomes the first person to break the sound barrier without any machine assistance after jumping from a helium filled balloon 24 miles above earth. A concert was broadcast to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy and over $50 million was donated.

The resilience of Americans never ceases to amaze me. We will argue, disagree, and throw stones all over the place. But in times of tragedy, we are united. We are united because as Americans, we realize that no matter who we are or what we represent, we all deserve to be treated as human beings. We all deserve to be respected. We all make mistakes and we all deserve a chance to redeem ourselves. So this is what I am proposing to all of you…..I have 726 “friends” on Facebook. If all of us do something good each week, besides our normal routine, at the end of the year, we will have done 37,804 acts of kindness. But here is where I think this idea can gain momentum and make a significant difference. Let’s say out of all my “friends”, 350 read this blog and commit to the idea of one additional act of kindness a week for all of 2013. Then, they send a link to my blog to 5 of their closest friends, and those 5 people do the same and so on. If this is done just 4 times, it will be read by over 200,000 people. That would be over 11,000,000 acts of kindness that our group will be committed to in 2013. These acts of kindness can be anything good, they don’t have to be something incredible. Your act could be to donate $2 a week to your favorite charity, help out at your child’s school, reach out to old friends that you have not talked to in years, or take someone you love to dinner, a movie, or a show. I would also encourage all of you to take 10 minutes out of your day and pray for people that you know, love, and care about. We ALL know people that are going through difficult times and would certainly appreciate the prayers. Do you know how long we would collectively pray if we do that for a year?....about 13,000,000 hours. That, my friends is a lot of prayer. So, I want you to send this blog to at least 5 people closest to you. If you can send it to more or repost it on Facebook to YOUR "friends", I encourage you to do so. Let them know that they don’t even have to read the entire article, just read the last paragraph and pass it on to 5 more people. We’ll know if this is working if the counter on my blog starts going up! I would also encourage everyone to keep a journal. Write down your acts of kindness to remind yourself of your efforts as the year moves on. If some of you would like to share your acts of kindness, just send me an email, I’d be glad to hear about them. Maybe I’ll share some of them at the end of the year. Let’s not just go through 2013 as another year, let’s go through it with a purpose, and a good purpose at that! May God bless all of you.