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December 31, 2007
Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year Everybody!!!! 2007 has come and gone and the new year is upon us. I am looking forward to what this new year brings to us all. Every year around this time many people, myself included, reflect about the year and ourselves in order to improve our lives in one way or another. So we make these “resolutions” (eat less, drink less, quit smoking… quit smoking EVERYTHING, work out more, be a better wife, husband, son, daughter, student, dog owner…whatever). To most of us these appear to be rather attainable goals. But I’m sure that to some, or maybe just me, none are! (Just kidding, sort of. Although, I did quit smoking once.) So…in lieu of resolutions that I’ll never keep I am going to ask for something that is seemingly even more unattainable…a kinder, gentler world. Although I’m going to try like hell. Ironically enough, I write this as news of the assassination of Pakistan presidential candidate Bennazir Bhutto hit the airwaves.
I know that at times the situation seems hopeless (you know, the whole peace on earth thing). And perhaps on a global scale it may very well be. However, what I am referring to is an individual, personal effort that softens the “meanness” of our society. For example, at your local grocery store, as you wait in line to check out, the magazines in the stands read “So and so has too much cellulite… or so and so is dying of liver failure due to alcohol abuse…or so and so is just too fat to be at the beach” and on and on…Certainly most of us dismiss these as trite entertainment to pass the time. Nonetheless they are there spreading their venom to unsuspecting victims (aka general public). Do we really believe that K-Fed is a better parent than Brittney? Also, if cameras followed any one of us around for twenty four hours and we had no control of the content, chances are we would do something that somebody would not agree with. Those magazines and tabloids will always be there (after all it is a “free” society). So do we stop reading them? I wish. I certainly don’t read them but to each his own. All I am saying is that we should at least be aware of their presence and how they affect our attitudes about ourselves and how that “meanness” infiltrates our societal fiber.
This “meanness” that I keep referring to may very well be instilled in us from a very young age…a kind of “win at all cost” mentality that continues on through adulthood. You see it on tv,radio, and print. It is apparent in our electoral process, in our corporations, in our leadership (and not just Bush, although they have certainly perfected this attitude with diabolical circumstances).
I know I’ve rambled here a bit, so I thank you for sticking with me. I am well aware that I may be completely full of hot air. Nonetheless, my own self-importance(or the wine, I can’t tell) keeps me from hitting the delete button. If we lived in a kinder gentler world would atrocities still occur? Probably so. Poverty, hunger, war would all carry on. History has not shown otherwise. But we, as individuals, as a country, as a people can do our part for a better, brighter, future…and it starts within ourselves. Everybody will have their own way of going about this. Perhaps not watching so much television for some…reading a book…going to a museum… or doing something creative may work for others. I did something the other night that made my world kinder and gentler. After the kids had gone to bed ( which of course, immediately made my world kinder and gentler) I opened a bottle of wine and put on a Benny Goodman LP that I had not listened to in years. Yes, it had that wonderful scratchy noise. And yes you actually had to get up and retrieve it from a shelf and then walk over to the turntable and put it on…phew!! Exhausting!! Then the first verse of “Moonglow” plays through the house and everything is alright. For me, just knowing that a master craftsman, albeit, a supremely talented human being, not a machine with a microchip, is making those wonderful fluid sounds, sort of defines, for me, the world I want to live in. And I am reminded that at one point in our educational history we actually taught kids to play instruments. Not only enriching their lives while chiseling away that “meanness”, but making them better human beings along the way. Or, at the very least try to. (In Rockway Junior High in Miami, a public school in a very middle-class neighborhood, we had a full orchestra with strings and brass and woodwinds. Our teacher played every instrument in that orchestra). And for just a moment I was taken back to a kinder, gentler world.
Happy New Year Everybody


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