I am never one to lament the completion of another year as I spend relatively little time looking backwards. To be honest, much to the chagrin of my wife (who is quite the planner), I spend relatively little time looking forward either as I’m usually absorbed in the here and now. I find there is enough to deal with in the present. As with most of my years on this earth (and there have now been almost 60 of them), 2012 was a year with some good and some bad – and in some cases pretty horrid. Luckily, my life and my sphere of influence fell mostly on the side of the good stuff. I am happy with that but I am disheartened by all the not so good stuff I see around me – again feeling lucky that most all of it has chosen to remain outside of me and my family but never feeling so insulated and safe to not recognize that at any moment it could easily intrude. That possibility is never that far away and with everything going on in this country at the moment, nothing is a certainty.
While most anyone else probably doesn’t care about the personal side of my life, this is really for me – by seeing it in writing it re-emphasizes the gift I have and how lucky I am to have the people around me who are my immediate family. It ensures I never take it all for granted.
Let’s talk about the good first.
- I remain happily married and in love – kind of corny on one hand but having the type of relationship I have with my wife after 32 years is one that happens far too little in our society – I am very fortunate.
- All four of us in the immediate family are healthy. Those of us over 55 are feeling our age but that’s it. There is nothing life threatening we need to deal with and we can do most everything we want – and I am thankful for that. My joints make much more noise than they ever have but I take this over most of the alternatives.
- As a family we have remained pretty much unscathed by the economic travesties of the past couple of years.
- My two kids continue success in their careers and jobs – and they have good jobs. Not as a result of luck because they have both worked hard and have not waited for things to be handed to them. And I am (we are) extremely proud to have raised these types of adults.
- I can also see the fruits of the time and effort we put into parenting over oh so many years (and it never really stops – it just changes). I believe my kids are contributing members of society. Perfect with no faults – not at all – they were raised by imperfect but caring parents. They are thoughtful, intelligent and caring of everything that is around them. They are not myopic and self-centered which seems to be more the rule than the exception any more.
On the personal “not so good” side, I actually can’t come up with too much that has happened this past year. In fact there is only one thing that has been bad that I can really think of. For anyone who has a family pet, you will understand. For the rest of you, probably not. If you look at the photos in my blog header and probably dispersed around other places, you will see a few of Gunther – our Jack Russell who has been a member of our family for the past 13 years. I’ve had a good number of dogs over my time but there has been none that have been like him. He is the embodiment of attitude and coolness. This was a dog that was all id, in your face, spirited beyond belief but loveable and warm through it all. His health issues began actually almost two years ago but it has been this past year we’ve watched him change the most. Where he was a friend to any person who walked into our house, he now moves away from everyone other than a couple of us – even those he readily jumped on just a short time ago. He is often confused and seems disoriented – his cataracts have gotten worse so it’s hard to tell if it is because he can’t see or if it is really the canine dementia the vet has diagnosed. We are lucky (again) that we have the resources to make sure he gets the treatment and care that he needs. Not sure if cataract surgery is in the future or if the medicine for the dementia will actually help him but I am hopeful. I know I’m blessed that this has been the only real downer on my year but that doesn’t take away the pain of watching the changes taking place and knowing what is happening to him – hoping his discomfort is more evident to us than to him.
On a broader note, some of the most recent happenings in our country have been tough to watch and often harder to understand. I don’t have answers to all the problems as I don’t believe there is any problem that has one or two causes and given the complexity of people and their varied ways of perceiving that around themselves, there will never be a “fix” that everyone sees the same way. That being said, there is some common sense that might factor into what we do or at least how we approach some of our issues of the day. Nothing magic or deep on my part or even maybe helpful but given this blog was a way to dump that which is in my head, so be it.
Guns and killing in America – Good topic top of mind – and one that could use some common sense applied.
- Let’s start with the premise that I don’t think that anyone really wants to take everyone’s gun away from them. I could give two hoots about what animals you want to kill – I don’t do it, I don’t really understand it. I have had guns and I’ve hunted – first time out deer hunting I quickly realized I couldn’t ever shoot a deer – and luckily one never showed up. I hear the talk of personal freedom, 2nd amendment, it’s an equalizer, etc. etc. I look around and see the evidence that guns breed more violence and death. There is no other civilized country with the number of guns we have in the US and there is no other country with a murder rate that comes close to ours. Not sure that adding more guns to the mix will improve the situation if we are really focused on reducing gun violence. Banning assault weapons and mega-clips seems to be a logical step forward. Yes, it won’t get rid of the guns and clips already out there. But if logic were to prevail, if we are not making more assault weapons then there won’t be more people with them. Does it fix the problem and make sure that no-one will again use an assault rifle or use a mega-clip to kill a bunch of people? Not at all but if it keeps someone who doesn’t have one now from getting one and creating another Newtown incident then maybe it makes sense.
- Armed guards in our schools – unfortunately, the state of our society has already resulted in some surprisingly high number of schools where there are already armed guards protecting something. I would surmise it might not be a result of protecting against terrorist or crazy person attacks but more for internal school problems but that is neither here nor there. As has been heavily discussed, Columbine had armed guards. Will it possibly stop another Newtown? It might and if I follow the logic I see on an assault weapon ban, if having an armed guard saves lives in one instance, maybe it makes sense. That being said, having the likes of a Wayne La Pierre walking the halls to protect our children sends chills down my spine. While I have no doubt there are NRA members with the right skills – both gun and people – to maybe pull it off, sorry, if armed guards is the answer, then we need to talk about some real special people. The last thing we need is an internal disaster resulting from this “fix”. Arming school administrators and teachers – sorry – that is another disaster waiting to happen. Pretty sad this is even a topic we need to discuss.
- Violence in the movies and in video games – nice, easy target but if we again use common sense, the US isn’t the only country with violent movies and video games. Take a look at Japan – not without violent movies and definitely not without violent video games – take a look at their murder rate. Is the amount of violence a problem? I think there is something wrong here but focusing on this area isn’t going to get the desired results.
- Taking religion out of schools – Mike Huckabee, a man who never saw a barbecue he didn’t like, was quick to jump to this one. Not much to say other than “what an asshole”.
End of the day, as President Obama has said, because the problem is too complex isn’t a reason not to do something. If we can save one life, it is a start and an action worth taking.
Looking ahead I expect there is much more to rant about and I expect 2013 will offer plenty of fodder to continue my blog. Speaking of fodder, how about that Congress?
Happy New Year to all. Here’s to a great 2013 for everyone. A little peace and prosperity for all.