The Way I See It: Looking Back at 2014
Examining the past 52 weeks and how we've moved forward
While 2014 saw great change, it unfortunately also witnessed much animosity and little peace throughout the world, and across our great nation. In my final column of 2013, I touched upon the hope for a simpler and kinder life for all of us – embracing the then-new Pope Francis as the hopeful mascot of the change I hoped to see.
However, as we all know, the best-laid plans can often go awry, and this year, I believe we experienced more complexity and strife. My columns over the last 52 weeks touched upon many of these issues – some of larger proportions that had indirect consequences on each of us here locally and many of smaller proportions with larger consequences with direct ties to our community.
Looking back, each one of these issues still exist today. Some with even fewer answers.
In short review, globally, I touched upon the Ebola virus, the ensuing epidemic and the fear of reaching the United States. Today, after its brief encounter with our nation, it's no longer found in the States but still remains very much alive in West Africa. I wrote about ISIS terrorist group and whether the U.S. should get involved (we have), I remembered Robin Williams and the stigma of mental illness (which still exists today), and I welcomed LeBron James home to Cleveland (cautiously).
Most importantly, though, of all the issues I touched upon, the ones that hit home took the lot of my arguments. Looking back on each of them, I took a pragmatic stand on most topics. While I generally don't approach personal issues in a cut-and-dry manner, when it comes to our community, the way I see it, it seems the best approach is the one that affects the greater good of society – and not just a select few.
Looking back locally then, doesn't it make sense that if people aren't paying their garbage bills, then we stop picking up their trash for them? That a school should be able to relocate into a school building? That we should overhaul a public radio system if it saves lives? That if people want to see change in government, then they need to vote? That a new potato chip plant should be able to go into an old potato chip plant if it's creating business? That if we have an opportunity to exploit our assets as a community (roads, rails, and lakes) and that would have created an environment that would have attracted other industries – then we should exploit those assets (read: rail terminal)?
These were some of the main issues in 2014, and they remain problems that still plague our community today.
As a society, we must begin to realize that every decision our government makes will always have a positive and negative effect – depending on your perspective. Our elected officials' job is to determine where the outcome will make the most positive profound effect on the majority.
In 2015, I hope that as a community, we educate ourselves more about the candidates running for office before blindly voting them in; that we conduct more research to have a better grasp on the issues that afflict us in order to make better decisions in changing the outcomes; that our leaders and decision-makers become better communicators so that we can realize that the simplest answers might in fact be the best ones; and finally, to know that the best outcomes may not always make each of us happy but that they just might create a greater good for society as a whole.
And in the end, when decisions made don't go the way we personally want, we – as informed citizens – must either step up and help change it – or be willing to evolve our perspective.
The world doesn't revolve around us individually. If we took a moment and stepped away from ourselves to realize this, then life in our community will become just a little easier to live and the progress needed for our region will become easier to see.
Love? Hate? Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you. Email me at rStyn@ErieReader.com and follow me on Twitter @rStyn.