Happy New Year! Time for Resolutions!
The Christmas markets in Strasbourg and Alsace are over and gone; the ornaments are all packed away; and the house seems empty following the departure of family and friends. Another holiday season has come to an end, as has another year.
2012 was a big year for both France and the United States. Both countries held presidential elections, with France electing a new government and the United States reelecting President Obama. Both had great showings at the Summer Olympic games. And the world did not end in December, as predicted by some. But sadly, the year also saw its share of tragedy and loss, and ended on a very low note with the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut. France, too, experienced a similar outrage in Toulouse in 2012. We are sincerely grateful to all our friends and contacts for their heartfelt notes of sympathy and condolences. And while most of us around the world enjoyed peace and stability in our lives during 2012, many others continue to suffer economic hardship, any number of institutionalized injustices, hunger, disease and famine, and the terrible, irrational violence of war and ethnic conflict.
It sometimes seems as if the world is spinning out of control, and that solutions to our economic, political, and social problems seem farther away and harder to achieve than ever. It is all too easy to give up hope and say: “I’m just one, small person; what can I do to solve the world’s problems?” But lots of “one, small persons” working together CAN, perhaps, make a difference. Just ask those who have participated in and precipitated great change in several Middle Eastern and North African countries during the past two years. While the tumult continues, change HAS come, and it was made possible by many, raising their voices and acting as one.
So as you think about your New Year’s resolutions for 2013, how about choosing a cause that is important to you and taking some action? Write letters; pick up the phone; volunteer your time; talk to your friends; make a contribution; GET INVOLVED! It needn’t take much time, but many individuals, working together, to promote a cause they believe in can make a difference. This is, indeed, what democracy is all about. As is inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States: “E Pluribus Unum”.Don’t get me wrong! Personal resolutions are also great. So go ahead and resolve to quit smoking, lose weight, improve your French (or English!), or to spend more time with the family. But resolve, as well, to do something, just one little thing every day that will help make our world a better place for all.
Happy New Year. Let’s all work together to make it a great one!
Evan G. Reade
Deputy Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe