New Year’s Eve celebrations never mattered to me. We stay home and watch the festivities on television as they circle the globe, then go to bed early. Boring, I know. But it’s safe and sane, and keeps us out of trouble. We stay off the roads and don’t travel.
So, what’s the point of this column, you may wonder. The point is that as each new year rolls around, I try to focus on the future, not so much in the sense of making New Year’s resolutions — most if not all of which I never keep — but my hopes and aspirations for the next year. It’s an annual ritual, most of which I know probably will not happen, but one that I continue to hope will come to pass.
First and foremost, I look forward to another year of just living, spending time with my wife, our two dogs, and my friends and associates. I have been blessed with a long and fruitful life, filled with challenges and my share of hardships, I suppose. At 84 years of age, I am a living testimonial to the miracle of modern medicine and the talents of many fine medical professionals who managed to get me through various health travails on numerous occasions, some of which were quite serious.
Following, in no particular order, are my hopes and wishes for 2013:
» That our political leaders will come to their senses and stop spending money we don’t have. We are rapidly spending ourselves into oblivion at every level — national, state, local and individual — and appear to be headed into the worst of all economic worlds — hyperinflation.
» That people around the world can somehow stop enslaving, torturing and killing one another, for whatever reason(s). I understand that there may be compelling reasons in some instances, such as defending oneself, but man’s inhumanity toward one another has been the hallmark of civilization throughout recorded history, and unless we find a way to control our baser instincts, we may well destroy ourselves. Some people think that might be the best outcome.
» That we can manage to elect some people to public office who are principled and honest and are willing to serve for the common good rather than how they can line their own pockets. That’s a tall order, I know, but I can at least hope.
» That our educators will find a way to reach a generation of indifferent young people, too many of whom are ignorant and self-centered to a fault. When a young person cannot make the simplest calculations to give change to a customer, something is seriously wrong.
» That we can somehow find a way to lift our society out of the cultural morass into which it has sunk. Through the medium of modern communication — radio, television, the Internet and print media — we have managed to reach the point where anything goes and there are no limits, debasing too many of our young people in the process.
» That all of our military come home safely to their loved ones, their friends and their communities.
» That science will find cures for the worst diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, AIDS and the host of other conditions that plague the human race.
» That we can somehow improve the desperate conditions in which far too many of the world’s peoples are forced to live.
» That we do not have a severe earthquake in California.
» That people around the nation who are dealing with the impacts of the weather, such as blizzards, floods and devastating tornadoes, will manage to survive largely intact. I am eternally grateful for the privilege of living in an area that seems to escape the worst weather conditions largely unscathed.
» That the techies among us will find a way to stop spam forever and catch the people who spew endless unwanted garbage messages at us on the Internet.
» That my six grandchildren will inherit a better world than we appear to be leaving them.
» That you will have the happiest, most successful and healthiest year you have ever had.
It may seem like I’m asking for a lot, but in the final analysis, you can probably sum up my hopes and aspirations in one wish — that, as beauty contestants so often say, I just want “world peace.”
Note: This is my annual New Year’s wish list. It doesn’t change much from year to year, unfortunately because many of my wishes are not realized. But I am always hopeful that ultimately they will all come to pass.
— Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who as lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his blog, Opinionfest.com.