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Hope for a better year

Finally, 2013 is here. Hopefully the New Year will bring with it positive energy in a world that’s become laden with negativity — a chance for compromise among adversaries, a chance for peace among enemies and a chance for safety among chaos. That’s a tall order, but coming out of 2012, with the December mass killings in Newtown, Conn., which left 28 dead, the majority innocent and wide-eyed elementary school students, all one can do is hope.

Let’s face it, 2012 was a tough year. Before Newtown there was another December shooting, in a Portland, Ore., mall that left two dead and another wounded. In July there was the infamous Aurora, Colo., massacre, where 58 people were gunned down and 12 killed at a midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” in a crowded movie theater. Like the two aforementioned shootings, this one was also at the hands of a young 20-something man, clearly disturbed. And there were other mass shootings in 2012. There was deadly gunfire at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in August and in September there was more violence, at a manufacturer in Minneapolis.

While Newtown still feels so raw it’s important to address it — both the issues that led to the tragedy and the ways in which we, as a society, deal with its aftermath. The crucial question is, will people learn from the harrowing heartbreak to finally treat one another with kindness and respect, or will our pattern of behavior revert back to the callous, inhumane and uncaring traits that so describes much of mankind — long desensitized by the violence and mayhem that plague our society? It may be hard to self-critique, but it really is necessary if we are to succeed as human beings. We need to understand that even the slightest cruelties count. The disrespect, degradation and dismissal of others are not acceptable; they matter in how we are shaping our future. Think about teaching those traits to your children, and having them pass it down to theirs — humanity wouldn’t stand a chance.

Then there’s nature’s wrath to deal with. Certainly 2012 taught us all that Mother Nature is not to be messed with. Superstorm Sandy devastated the Northeast. It wiped out much of Long Island, the Jersey Shore, parts of Connecticut — killing an estimated 125 people and leaving roughly $62 billion worth of damage in its wake. The magnitude of the storm was enormous, and hundreds of thousands are still trying to rebuild their lives nearly two months later, some still without homes, cars, jobs or the basic necessities of life so many of us take for granted. When one takes into account the other natural disasters around the world this past year, it’s a wonder we’re still standing.

Then there was the fungal meningitis outbreak, linked to the tainted steroid injections that resulted in roughly 600 recorded cases and nearly 40 deaths, so far. The outbreak knows no geographic boundaries and has affected people across this nation.

2012 was also a very political year, and President Obama is ready to walk into his second term after an extremely close race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The two parties also went head-to-head over the fiscal cliff, worrying Americans about tax hikes and tax cuts and how much money they may be forced to part with in 2013.

Overseas there have been countless deadly protests in Egypt and Syria, fighting and war in the Middle East. A deadly raid in Benghazi, Libya, led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, bringing into question consulate security in a post-Gadhafi Benghazi. It also highlighted Americans’role in the Middle East and threats to the U.S. on foreign soil we will never completely escape.

The economy, as always, has been in the news constantly. Whether focusing on countries like Greece and Spain, or right here in the United States, money woes have befallen nations that once had strong economies. The U.S. continues to struggle, even as the recession supposedly wanes, and while reports show slight improvement in the jobs market, it’s clear the majority of Americans are struggling to make ends meet.

With such a full and tumultuous 2012, hopes are that 2013 will be both more productive and more positive. All we can do is play our part, work each day, and put our best effort forward. We must be sincere in all we do, support our loved ones and our communities, and never lose sight of the importance of being humane. With that let’s hope there is less violence, less anger and less tragedy in the upcoming year; more health, more wealth and more peace.