Depending on your point of view, 2016 was the best of times or the worst of times — or, if you’re like many of us, probably a little of both.
Looking back, we trudged through a presidential campaign that brought out some of the best and the worst in America. We saw on both sides candidates who played to our hopes as well as our fears. And we saw post-election behavior from some that went far beyond gloating on one side, and far beyond a reasonable protest on the other.
But again, most of us fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and we hope to see a return not to politics as usual — isn’t that what got us here in the first place — but to some less partisan, more rational version of politics, where our elected officials at all levels do more to live up to their roles as statesmen and stateswomen, and the people’s business comes ahead of political ideology.
In some cases, that’s a lot to ask for, we know, but this is the day where we take some time to envision a better version of ourselves, and then — if we’re serious — figure out the steps we need to take to make that goal a reality.
In fact, many of the qualities we hope to see in our elected officials are ones we can all apply to our everyday lives. Whether it’s at work, at home or among friends, who wouldn’t want to be seen as a respected leader, one who is able to gather all the facts, consider the problem, and work toward a solution for the greater good?
Having people who are willing lend a hand so that the needs of others are met is one of the things that makes this community such a great place to live. While they may never run for public office, through their volunteer service, they are just as important — if not more so — as anyone serving in an elected position.
These are the people who make sure the most vulnerable in our community are fed and clothed. They make sure community events — festivals, concerts, races and fun runs, fundraisers — are well organized and a pleasure to attend. They help out at schools, seniors centers, churches, and with youth organizations. Even in a small community, we may rarely have occasion to work with a politician, but it’s hard to go a day without benefitting from the work of a volunteer.
So, with 2016 in the books — and all the controversy that went with it — we hope you’ll add “volunteer” to your list of resolutions for 2017. We know it’s not always easy, but considering the uncertainty in Juneau and in Washington, D.C., it is one way in which each of us can contribute to making the world around us a better place to live.