Monday, January 5, 2009

An optimistic look back at 2008

Looking back at 2008, I’m gushing with enthusiasm that it was such a wonderful year… and I’m confident 2009 is going to be even better!!!
Of course, I’m an optimist.

And not just the starry-eyed, dreamer kind of optimist. I’m an actual member of the club: It’s official.

(Before I was recruited to become a Charter Member of the Chapin Optimist Club back in 1993, I had always thought Optimist Clubs were organizations for eye doctors… but then I read closer and realized that the clubs were just groups of local folks who all had positive outlooks on life, and got together to do good things for their communities.)

Turns out, I’m the unofficial “glass-half-full” kind of optimist, too… which has probably helped me make it this far. (If I were not an optimist, I might get depressed when I looked in the mirror every morning; but, as it is, I catch a glimpse of myself getting out of the shower and think, “Great news! I’m not going hungry!!!”)

The beginning of each New Year is a time of great optimism for many people, as they resolve to improve themselves in various ways.

The end of the Old Year, however, is too often dominated by less-than-positive reflections of the year just past. A lot of the blame for that goes to the news media, I think. Invariably, the news media ends the year with their own compilations of the “biggest news stories” of the year… and, of course, if it was a “big” news story to start with, it probably had a negative slant. After all, the major media doesn’t make its money from writing positive news. (“If it bleeds, it leads”, as the old newspaper saying goes.)

So, optimist that I am, I decided to take my own look back at the year just ended -- 2008 -- and what I discovered was a wonderfully, fantastic year!!!

There are those who would take issue with my optimistic assessment. They would point to the national economy which required an historic “bailout”. They would remind me that my choice for President lost. They would remind me that I personally underwent brain surgery for cancer, and ended the year by turning 55, making me officially old. In short, they see the glass half-empty.

But that’s not the way I see it.

I see an economy which is correcting itself to match the numerous changes in last few decades – especially technology – which have altered the world as we know it. While many of us saw short-term losses in our long-term investments, virtually no one went hungry this year as a result, and the “new” market which emerges will be stronger and more stable, with greater earning potential for the future.
When I see unemployment at 7%, that means an astounding 93% of the people have jobs… and the entire notion of “jobs” is changing as more and more people are using new technologies to create their own livelihoods.

While my preferred candidate didn’t win the Presidency, many good results will come from the election of Barak Obama, most notably the easing of race problems which have long plagued our nation.

Would I have preferred a Republican president? Sure. But the really good news is this: Our nation changed governments without riots or unrest or bloodshed, something which is rare in the annals of history. And we did so because the largest voter participation in history occurred this November. And because we changed government in an orderly way proscribed by our Constitution, we will have the opportunity to change back again if four years if we choose! A guaranteed opportunity!

Then there were the Olympics, where China managed to take 15 more Gold Medals than we did, while also showing off its new super-superpower status to the world. (We, of course, won more medals overall… a small consolation.)

But the far bigger story than which superpower prevailed in the medal count was that more than one hundred nations again came together is a peaceful display of global harmony and brotherhood. Are there still trouble-spots in the world? Of course there are. But there is also a prevailing goodwill among nations that has been more of the exception than the rule through recorded history. The greater openness which technology has only recently afforded is already bearing the fruit of global progress and acceptance.

As for me personally during 2008, yes, I did face a health challenge when I was diagnosed with brain cancer and had a tumor removed in August. But, to me, this incident represents the best news of all… because I’m still here!!! There’s probably nobody on earth who has ever been happier to turn 55, as I did last week. Somewhere between the neuro-surgeons at MUSC and the prayers of many hundreds of friends and supporters, it worked out well… and has increased my optimism to an all new level!!

So, I guess you can see why I’m gushing with enthusiasm about 2008!

And if you’re still not convinced that 2008 was a banner year…
Clemson and South Carolina are BOTH playing on New Year’s Day Bowl Games… and how often does THAT happen?

Hope your 2008 was as great as mine was, and your New Year is better than ever!!!

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