Columns 2015

A look back

As I get older, I find the changing of the year less and less exciting because I become increasingly aware that I have fewer and fewer new years in my future. On the other hand, anyone who can look back on 2015 and not express some sense of relief that it’s over has clearly not been tuned in this year. Let me catch you up. Donald Trump, a man on his third wife who refers to African-Americans as “the blacks”, is actually a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. And he recently tied with Pope Francis as the second most admired man in America in a Gallup poll. Need I say more?

One of the better things about reaching a ripe old age is that you’ve seen things that horrified you, but experience has shown that this too shall pass. Remember, there was a time when Sarah Palin was actually considered a viable candidate to be second in line for the presidency. Wow, just writing that down still kind of makes me a little nervous. But I know Donald Trump will pass, as did Sarah Palin, as nothing more than an aberration of our normally fairly respectable political campaigns. OK, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. Respectability has never been part of our political process.

If we look for the good in the year that’s about to end, we need to look elsewhere than in the political realm where all sense and sensibility has been eliminated and replaced by something that only makes me very sad. So while Americans debated the merits of a brain surgeon who is convinced that the pyramids were built by Joseph to store grain, and a national buffoon whose lies are accepted as SOP by his admirers, let’s see what was happening elsewhere.

There was Pope Francis’ visit to America which seemed to prove that no matter how many Kardashian shows we watch, we are inherently a religious country looking for uplift and spiritual renewal from someone who actually seems to understand Christ’s message. That was pretty awesome.  Then there was that video of Michelle Obama rapping to get kids moving. Finally, something the medical community has been saying for years about how Americans have to change their lifestyle if they want to be healthy has clearly stuck. For the first time in more than a decade, the rate of American obesity and diabetes has leveled out.

Our esteemed legislature, or some committee thereof, actually voted to move out of the Taj Mahawker into a space a little less spectacular and a little more in line with Alaska’s current fiscal situation. How those legislators will be able to throw trash away without trashcans that sense their need and open automatically is a big question. I wish I could say I have faith that they are all bright enough to figure it out. But I don’t.

Of course, we have to include the presidential visit into any round up of good news in Alaska. Whether or not you like Obama, he’s the first sitting president to ever come to the State of Alaska, thus solidifying our position as an actual state. Now if we could convince 48 other states that we are part of the continental US, we wouldn’t all be forced to buy at Amazon Prime for the free shipping. The other states would understand that when they said free shipping in the continental US that includes Alaska. Unless, of course, they can name the continent they think we’re on.

Here’s something else for which we can all be grateful. Americans continue to be some of the most generous and giving people on earth. And it’s not just in the field of military armaments and equipment that we give so abundantly. Most Americans seem to understand that no matter our political differences, we are all in the same boat and we all need to help each other. Not all Americans are as generous as others, but there are enough to give us continued hope for the future.

May 2016 bring you joy and peace, contentment and fulfillment. If you need help finding those things, they’re not far away, at soup kitchens, shelters, safe houses and any number of other charities that could use your help in their mission. You’ll be the better for the giving.